Today the Congressional Budget Office gave a reasonably good score to pending health care legislation:
A U.S. Senate healthcare reform plan ... meets President Barack Obama's goals on costs and deficit reduction, budget analysts said ...
... Democratic leader Harry Reid will release legislation the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said would cost $849 billion over 10 years ... A Senate aide said the CBO also estimated the Senate plan will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over 10 years and $650 billion in the second decade, while cutting the number of uninsured by 31 million ...
So maybe this thing will pass, and maybe it won't. I have my view of the matter, which I won't share here because A) You can guess what it is, and B) It's tangential to the story I'm about to unspool ...
I have a close friend, an artist, who has worked in the cartoon industry longer than I have, but has only twenty-eight years in the industry pension and health plan because, at the start of his career, he couldn't get a job at a union shop.
Happily, after a few years he landed that coveted union gig and his career took off.
Unhappily, after working for twenty-eight years at three different union studios, he hit the proverbial brick wall common to a lot of people in this business. His support network of fellow professionals died and/or retired and he was eased out to pasture by thirty-somethings at the ripe age of fifty-seven.
An old story, all too often told.
My friend is now fifty-nine. Life being what it is, after failing to land any jobs in his long-time profession he took early retirement, which means he got a lot less in his monthly pension check than he would have if he'd held on.
But he couldn't hold on. He kept looking for work, going on job interviews, not getting anything. The Motion Picture Industry Health Insurance ran out, COBRA ran out, and he steadily burned through savings.
Then three months ago his luck changed: "A job just dropped in my lap, and I took it." The job paid $14 per hour, working in a storage facility, no benefits. But it allowed him to earn enough money to buy the thousand dollar a month health care policy he needs to survive, since he's one of those lucky duckies with "a pre-existing condition," and so can't buy lower cost coverage.
As he said to me recently: "What I can get doesn't cover all the prescription drugs I take, but at least I've got a job now and can afford to pay for a stripped-down health plan, even if it is super expensive..."
Such a deal. A super-expensive medical plan. For a man too old for work in his long-time occupation, yet too young for a full pension or Medicare or Social Security. And his retirement accounts, accumulated over a lifetime of work, steadily melt away.
I watch the health care debate, and the hand-wringing about socialism and "subsidized abortions," and then I think of the $700 billion that Hank Paulson gave Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Bank of America, and the large bonuses those fine companies -- saved from bankruptcy by your tax dollars and mine -- now hand out to their oh-so-deserving executives. And I say to myself:
"There are politicians worried about socialism? Where the fuck were these people fourteen months ago, when they couldn't create socialism fast enough when it came to Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Who the fuck are these people kidding?"
And then I think of my friend, slowly descending into poverty because he can't get a job that pays much of anything and can't get health insurance that costs less than an arm and a leg. And I get all warm and tingly knowing that although he might be eating it, at least Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup have been saved by federal socialism so that they can rape and pillage another day.