Dusty Trice has some brilliant reporting. Here’s his film:

Read his detailed report and analysis here.

I love this: The woman who asks the opening question seems to assume that the general population is behind her. Love the way she says “Obama” … reminds me of how southerners used to say a different word back in the old days. Then, I love the way she stands there dumbfounded when actual conversation happens.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob
    September 3, 2009

    I remember Al Franken back in his International Communist Party days back on SNL in the late-70s, early-80s. Later on I found out he was a wrestler in high school, something about tackling a nutjob threatening Howard Dean or Wes Clark.

    Anyway, someone with that much comedy background and physicality is going to be awfully hard to intimidate compared to the ambulatory hairpiece of graft that comprised the bulk of Norm “Blow ‘n Go” Coleman.

    Tom Davis’ memoir “Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss” is in my reading queue, topping one of the myriad stacks of unread books here. The more I learn about Al Franken, the more impressed I am. Congrats on finally getting a senator worth having.

  2. #2 PattyP
    September 3, 2009

    She’s dumbfounded because Franken is making sense and her brain can’t handle the logic overload. LOL.

  3. #3 Ian
    September 4, 2009

    I’ve always liked Al Franken, I was impressed with him back on Air America, but I never realised how good a politician he was (and I mean that in a good way). Intelligent, in command of the facts, able to communicate with people…wow.

  4. #4 The Science Pundit
    September 4, 2009

    I <3 Al

  5. #5 Kris
    September 4, 2009

    @Ian – sad that being well-informed, intelligent and an able communicator is now reason for praise amongst politicians, rather than a prerequisite.

  6. #6 nails
    September 4, 2009

    “ambulatory hairpiece of graft that comprised the bulk of Norm “Blow ‘n Go” Coleman.”

    I laughed soooooo hard.

  7. #7 M@
    September 4, 2009

    I think your mocking comments directed at the woman in the video are pretty immature and very much not in the spirit of Al Franken’s constructive discourse. If you really hope to get anywhere on this issue and other issues, try being more humane and understanding, even though others sometimes are not.

  8. #8 bill
    September 4, 2009

    first off…I would hardly call these people an” angry mob”. I didn’t see ant pitch forks or torches. Be honest. They were polite and soft spoken and respectful.

    secondly, his point about McAllen, Texas…well…it makes the point for why a government plan will CUASE costs to go up. The Doctors there, according to Senator Franken are ripping off the MEDICARE system. A government paid for insurance plan. A real insurance company would check that and would not pay for those abuses. Thats why the public option will not save any money but cause costs to go up. Once it is the government paying its like free money. So he, with out knowing it, is making the case against the public option.

    His right that we need some reform…but not the drastic overhaul the dems wish for.

  9. #9 Jjames
    September 4, 2009

    This vid perfectly illustrates the health care ‘debate’.
    The woman who asked the initial question clearly wants to stick with rash generalizations. When Franken keeps giving details, she becomes visibly bored and unable to comprehend. She represents 90% of the reform opposition. They are like blind people who oppose color.

  10. #10 Ian Ragsdale
    September 4, 2009

    @bill – His comment about McAllen TX proves nothing of the sort. BOTH places he refers to get reimbursed by Medicare. BOTH get paid by both medicare and private insurance. His point is that there are a bunch of ways we can make health care cheaper with better regulation, regardless of who pays for it.

    The whole point of the public option is to provide competition for private insurers. In most states, there are very few options for health insurance (and there are antitrust exceptions for heath insurers), so there is no real competition, which is one reason why our health care is so expensive.

    I don’t understand why those who are opposed to the public OPTION are afraid of it. If private enterprise is so much more efficient, won’t people just use private insurers? If government is so bad at running these things, why are the insurance companies afraid to compete?

    Personally, I’d be quite happy to jettison the private option if they were to repeal all antitrust exemptions, ensure that insurance companies can operate across state lines (most states prevent this) and break up some of the larger companies to ensure real competition in the private market, but I find that even less likely.

  11. #11 NewEnglandBob
    September 4, 2009

    No, bill, you have it wrong. Private, for profit insurance is the one who encourages extremely bad healthcare and ripoff of the payment system. The doctors even order more tests that are marginally necessary so they can get more reimbursements while the insurance companies deny necessary procedures, impose yearly and lifetime caps, and horse around with drug coverage.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2009

    [7]M: There is nothing un-nice about what I say. I’m making simple observations and being rather kind in my words, if you must know.

    [8]Bill: I’m going by what Dusty Trice wrote in his original post . He was there, you were not.

  13. #13 Doug
    September 4, 2009

    Jjames — Do you understand what you just post?
    “…wants to stick with rash generalizations”…She represents 90% of the reform opposition.

    er, that’s what I would call a rash generalization.

  14. #14 T.E.Chester
    September 4, 2009

    McAllen, Texas. Well I live a couple of hours north of there.
    South Texas has the highest medical costs in the US. This was reported in a story a couple of months ago in the New Yorker.
    There are many reasons for that. Some of them, not all are: diet, family history, availability.
    As for so called “tort reform” we’ve had it here in Texas. Of course, the people of Texas were lied too about what they actually voted for. But the American Medical Association and the Insurance industry lobbied hard hard hard.
    The winners? The AMA and the Insurance industry.
    The looser’s?
    The victims of medical malpractice.
    In fact, tons of bad doctors who should have been stopped from practicing medicine are moving here in drove. So Texas has and is becoming the safe haven for “quack” doctors.
    But it’s nice to see “Al” put the lady in her place.
    I use to be in the insurance business. If the general public knew what I knew, they’d be marching in D.C. demanding the President’s bill be shoved through TODAY.
    Don’t let the AMA and the insurance industry fool you.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2009

    Doug, I think Jjames is right, or is certainly seems that way. She seems to have the same opinion, approach, and attitude to every one else in the opposition I’ve talked to.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2009

    That is very interesting about Texas being the go-to state if you are too likely to get sued elsewhere. Kind of a nightmare.

  17. #17 T.E.Chester
    September 4, 2009

    The way the “tort reformed” works is like this:
    If you are injured, maimed, disabled, killed by a doctor, the most …THE MOST YOU OR YOUR FAMILY CAN SUE FOR IS $250,000.
    Now, out of that $250,000 YOU MUST DEDUCT ALL LEGAL EXPENSES.
    And it takes about $110,000 to really get a medical malpractice case going.
    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
    Just to show you have far the Insurance Industry lobbyists have gone here in Texas,
    OUT OF THE MONEY LEFT OVER FROM LEGAL EXPENSES, THE INSURANCE COMPANY THAT COVERS YOU GETS ALL THEIR MONEY THEY SPENT ON YOUR COVERAGE BACK.
    You, the malpractice victim are left with the “crumbs.”
    Had a man in Houston take his doctor to court, and won. The man is in a wheel chair for the rest of his life and his family is financially suffering.
    What is the amount they got after the court costs and insurance company got their money?
    $69,000.
    Now, how is that man and his family supposed to live off that?
    Do you think because of a bad doctor malpractice and you’re stuck in a wheel chair for the rest of your life, and your family is suffering, that $69,000 is going to do anything for you?
    By the way, one of the authors of the law was an Insurance Company trial lawyer.
    The insurance industry, not the people were well represented.

  18. #18 Dave Foertsch
    September 4, 2009

    Instead of getting all worked up over which side is right we should focus on a definition of success. Mine is that we need to see healthcare costs cut in half with universal coverage and an increasing life expectancy.
    In order to be competive in the world we cannot leave any stone unturned in our reform efforts. Just extending the current ineffecient system so that we have universal coverage is not my idea of successful reform.

  19. #19 Tara
    September 4, 2009

    Bill: First of all your are missing the point. The Bill is trying to change how medicare works so people can’t take advantage of the system. That is why so many people with medicare think they are going to lose their benefits, because it mentions medicare and people have jumped to conclusions.

    T.E. Chester: Was it really malpractice? or was it normal risk with the surgery he had. Malpractice is an overused term. If you have a surgery for say removing the gal bladder and the risk are labeled as say you may lose (this is not the risk just using this as an example) loss of use of legs and you are the 1% this happens to. This is not malpractice this is part of having the surgery. It is tough it is hard but that is what disability is for.

    Tort reform should include the insurance company not being reimbursed that is what they are there for to cover the medical costs. But tort reform should also include if you bring a frivolous case to court you pay the court fees and the other parties lawyers.

    I do agree that in this nation the insurance industry is well represented. This is why my call is for insurance to be non-profit, disallowing drug companies to advertise to both consumer and doctor, and to bring patient records to a central computer per se, so doctors are not reordering tests and charging up the costs through these same tests.

    Some of this was what the bill is still trying to do, some of this is what the bill was originally aimed at doing before the insurance lobbies got a hold of it and some of this is what the bill fails to do.

    The fact is though, no matter who you are you need to see that health insurance needs to change. Also it is a bloody shame that in the best country in the world people are dying because they have no health insurance.

    To the people out there being so vocal about this bill, try and keep the doctor issue out of this, because honestly whether or not this bill gets passed we are facing a crisis on the doctor front with malpractice suits and costs on the rise and the rising cost or college, being a doctor is no longer a great career choice: so fewer and fewer are making it.

  20. #20 S
    September 4, 2009

    I think the title of this article is a little misleading. They were hardly an “angry mob” – I was actually quite surprised with how well-behaved everyone was. Concerns were voiced, no one yelled and screamed, and everyone seems to be listening to each other for the most part. I’m as pro-reform Obama-lovin’ liberal as they come, but give these folks some credit for not being completely irrational pitchfork totin’ morons.

    PS- Al Franken is a rockstar and I now have a crush on him.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    September 4, 2009

    S: I take the cue on the title from the source. Please click on the link. The person who made the film titled his post “Franken talks down angry mob and states “About a dozen tea party activists had staked out Sen. Al Franken’s booth at the Minnesota State Fair and confronted him loudly when he arrived.”

    You can go to Dusty’s web site and ask him for more details or clarification if you like.

  22. #22 Itzac
    September 4, 2009

    That was impressive. I was particularly pleased with how he addressed the very first question. There’s a man who understands leadership and isn’t afraid to lead in a principled way. Of course that assumes he’ll follow through, but having already said it, he has little to lose now.

  23. #23 Phoenix Woman
    September 4, 2009

    The best “tort reform” is single-payer, since it removes the very possibility of medical bankruptcy. The public option comes a close second. Either is vastly better than the industry-pleasing and taxpayer-gouging “co-op” nonsense.

  24. #24 bill
    September 4, 2009

    First, I take that no one wants to argue that calling these people an “angry mob” is just wrong. Those people were polite and respectful.

    Second, Franken’s point about medicare again proves the point. Medicare will be bankrupt in ten years. The doctors in Mcallen, Texas scam the system because it is going through a government system. People are far more careful spending their own money than they are spending others. And thats why almost all government programs are bloated.

    You guys have no idea where you are going to get all the extra money needed for this health plan. It will be an additional 100 billion + per year. The possible savings in reforms will only cover 25% ( if we see any savings at all.)

    The CBO analysis clearly states that the Democratic plan will not lower health care costs and will only result in increased government spending.

    Why don’t you guys fix Medicare first. Prove that you can..then we’ll talk about turning over the rest of our health care system.

    The president makes the point with his Fed-ex versus the post office comparison.” its the Post Office that has the problems” Yes exactly. Hardly gives me confidence that a government plan is the best solution.

    While Fed EX and UPS have been bringing quality service to the consumer the Post Office keeps raising prices and cutting service.

  25. #25 Stephanie Z
    September 4, 2009

    Why don’t we wait? Because that’s been proven not to work. This is broken, and people die because of that.

    Also, stop quoting the $10B figure. It’s vastly out of date, and the people who keep repeating it to you have every reason to know that.

    And seriously, do you have any idea how much it costs to send a letter via UPS or FedEx–or how much that’s gone up over recent years? If they were out-competing the Post Office, that’s how you’d get your junk mail.

  26. #26 Dan
    September 4, 2009

    @bill:FedEx and UPS provide “quality service” only to people in the areas they cover. They don’t go everywhere.

    USPS covers everyone, 6 days a week, reliably.

    There’s really no basis for comparison.

    General comments:
    I personally think that Al’s point about private insurance is good. If the only change we made was extending MN’s insurance and medical regulations to the rest of the country we would save Billions of dollars. That alone would be a huge improvement.

    Add regulations like the Swiss have on top of it and we would have wholly private health care still, but it would be universal and affordable.

    The point is that “competition” in health care is illusory. People lie, cheat, and game the system from all sides. Tighten up the system and a lot of that goes away.

  27. #27 Alice
    September 4, 2009

    While Fed EX and UPS have been bringing quality service to the consumer the Post Office keeps raising prices and cutting service.

    I call unmitigated bullshit. Fed Ex will deliver a piece of paper across town in one day for something like 30 bucks. The Post office will deliver the same piece of paper across town in two days (but sometimes it gets there in one) for a half a buck.

  28. #28 CEMaine
    September 4, 2009

    Gee Bill
    Perhaps it has something to do with email? The Post Office is the big loser in the rise of the internet. Business is down so rates go up. I guess you slept through Business 101?
    No one is talking about “turning over the health care system’ Stop spouting talking points eh?
    Are you able to truly debate or are you a drone Bill? Can you think on your own?

  29. #29 JohnV
    September 4, 2009

    Yeah man post office server is so bad and expensive. I mean, that letter I send someone 1000 miles away on saturday morning shows up monday afternoon for less than 50 cents.

    Fedex would only charge $34.71 for the same functionality. I guess if I want slower server it could get there a day later for only $16.30.

  30. #30 Burt
    September 4, 2009

    I propose that Al Franken becomes the heir to Ted Kennedy’s mantle. By most accounts, he is more liberal than John Kerry (and Obama by a large margin) and likely smarter to boot.

  31. #31 Eric Honaker
    September 4, 2009

    To those complaining about the characterization of the group as angry: (and slightly tongue in cheek)

    Even leaving aside the question of how they behaved before the question that got Franken talking, you have to remember where they were.

    For Minnesotans, those people were frothing maniacs.

    We’re talking about a state where “not okay” is a pretty harsh condemnation if used in casual conversation.

  32. #32 Minneapolis Gal
    September 5, 2009

    Actually, Al lost me with his remarks about our so-called great health care model in Minnesota. The total cost for employer provided coverage of my family of four, medical and dental with our local non-profit co-op HealthPartners is $21,500. That’s an outrage. Do not let anyone sell you on the idea of “non-profit co-ops” being the answer.

  33. #33 Jim Thomerson
    September 5, 2009

    When I was young person, late 1940′s, I read an article in LOOK magazine about the twelve richest men in America. Eight of the twelve had made some or all of their fortune in the insurance industry. So I have understood the nature of the insurance industry for most of my life.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2009

    Minneapolis Ga: I’m certain that Al does not think that everything is fine in Minnesota. He is correct in saying that the system we have in Minnesota means that if certain things … but not other things… are forced on all the states uniformly we lose, because we are doing it BETTER than other states. Indeed, when these state laws were initially pushed (by the DFL) there was all sorts of bellyaching that we woudl be come the the state people moved to because it was better and we didn’t want that. When it was pointed out that people from Wisconsin would not move here because they were doing the same thing, the right wing crazies and libertarians relaxed and allowed an improvement in our system.

    This is why we need a single payer system, by the way, or if not, Ameri-choice.

  35. #35 bill
    September 6, 2009

    Calling them an “angry mob” is just a lame attempt to marginalize them. If the Democrats had their way there would have been no need for town hall meetings on health care since they would have already passed the bill in July. They did not want nor seek public opinion on this matter. That is mostly why people are pissed. Something this important cannot and should not be rammed down our throats. We have to find what we agree on and start from there

    Secondly..I wasn’t the one who made the Fed-EX versus the Post Office comparison. It was the President of the United States. I suggest you vent your anger at him or call what he said “bullshit”. Wag your finger at him not me.

    You guys may not realize it but…there are plenty of people who are very happy with their health care in this country. My father has CPOD and he gets the best care in the world. All paid through his various insurance policies. My friend who has no money was diagnosed with breast cancer. She got full treatment at one of the best cancer centers in the world. It did not cost her a penny. They even provided a breast replacement surgery.

    The CBO totally disagrees with most of you that these ‘savings” will actually happen. You guys “think” they will. The CBO looked into and said these savings are not there. In the case of fraud and over-billing…. it begs the obvious question. Why haven’t they fixed this already? Why has it been allowed in the first place? ( the answer is that people don’t care about spending tax dollars. It’s like free money. Just about every government program is bloated in this manner. )

    And you can’t save enough money to fill the gap anyway. Plain and simple.

    As far as the 100 Billion per cost per year being out of date? So what’s the new number?
    It’s an optimistic 700 Billion over 10 years. But this is with a scaled down plan. Why don’t we just wait and see. I’ll bet you it will creep back up to 100 + billion.

    You guys can’t explain how you’ll pay for this. And seeing that Medicare will be broke in 10 years I don’t believe in the ability of the government to pull this off without sending us into huge debt. Here in California we are having to cut all kinds of services and reduce salaries to close the budget gap. This is where the country is headed is we don’t control spending.

  36. #36 misuba
    September 7, 2009

    In Minnesota it counts as an angry mob if you have more than 12 people in one place and none of them offers you a hotdish.

  37. #37 Greg Laden
    September 7, 2009

    In Minnesota it counts as an angry mob if …

    This could be whole new routine for an up and coming Minnesotan comic.

  38. #38 Ryan
    September 7, 2009

    Hey bill,

    Just because some of the country is insane doesn’t mean we all want to be.

    I’m sorry, that was too harsh wasn’t it? Just because you like your health insurance company and enjoy paying for corporate jets for their executives doesn’t mean we all do. It was made quite clear that even the public option would be just that… AN OPTION. No one is going to force you to give up your private health insurance the same way that no one MAKES you send your letters through the post office instead of FedEx, UPS or DHL.

    As for the presidents comments about FedEX and UPS, he was only making the point that while there is a public alternative, the private companies still made a pretty good business doing basically the same thing.

    As for paying for things… when did you conservatives suddenly get so concerned about paying for anything? Where was the discussion about how we will pay for the war in Iraq? That fiasco has already cost us 680 billion in 7 years and didn’t produce a single WMD. How about you go complain about that for a while instead.

  39. #39 bill
    September 9, 2009

    As far as me being able to keep my private plan…when many even here on this blog say their preference is a single payer plan and you add up quotes like these…

    Barney Frank

    “I think that if we get a good public option it could lead to single payer and that is the best way to reach single payer.”

    It leaves me skeptical that I will have those options you seem to promise me. Besides, if my employer decides to drop their health plan and just pay into the public plan…well…I really can’t keep it can I?

    The end goal here for your side is a single payer system.

  40. #40 Stephanie Z
    September 9, 2009

    bill, if your employer chooses a whole new set of plans for this January 1 (and they make this decision every year), you’re going to lose your current plan a lot sooner than you potentially could under the bill. It’s not as though you have any security in this respect.

    Single-payer is an entirely different step than anything anyone’s discussing right now, unfortunately. It will take a whole new act of political will.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    September 9, 2009

    Bill, as Stephanie says, you have very little choice now. Stop winging and get with the program. You’re ruining it for everybody.