We have 65 progressive Representatives who have signed a letter pledging to vote against any healthcare reform bill that doesn’t include a public option, and we have 51 Democratic Senators who are on record with some level of support for it. Based on those two facts, what do you think looks like the most direct path to achieving Obama’s most cherished goal of passing something-called-healthcare-reform?
Any approach other than simply restoring the public option via reconciliation so that the House progressives can vote Yes without breaking their word just seems needlessly complicated and antagonistic, not to mention electorally suicidal. It would remove all remaining doubt about whose side the Senate Democrats and the Obama White House are on if they try to force the House to either pass the Senate bill as is, or with an inadequate reconciliation sidecar that does not include the public option.
Oh, and I would also recommend that the sidecar also eliminate the unpopular excise tax completely rather than “fix” it by exempting union workers. All that will do is make everyone else hate Democrats and unions.
2 commentsJanuary 30th, 2010 at 08:20pmPosted by Eli
To me, what’s most striking about these poll numbers is not that McCain’s overall approval rating in AZ is at 40%, but that the story offers up his 52% approval rating among AZ Republicans as its “but it’s not all bad news for McCain” graf.
Don’t get me wrong, I mostly like what I’ve seen of the iPad so far, I just have trouble identifying a reason why I would want one.
I have a PS2, but I got a PSP because I wanted a gaming platform (and media player) I could carry around in a pocket. I have a laptop, but I got a Treo because I wanted internet access I could carry around in a pocket. Then I decided that I really wanted a more format-agnostic media player, but I couldn’t rationalize adding yet another device to my portable ecosystem. So I was tempted by the iPhone, but eventually ended up getting a Touch Pro2 because I wanted a physical keyboard and a high-resolution screen.
I also decided that I wanted a laptop that could fit in the side pocket of my semi-ubiquitous camera bag and go all day on a single battery charge, so I got an Eee 1005HA. That would be the most likely candidate to be replaced by the iPad, but I just can’t figure out why I would want to pay $500 or more to replace it with something that’s roughly the same size and battery life but with fewer capabilities and no keyboard. Maybe if the iPad were running Snow Leopard, but it’s not. It’s running a scaled-up version of the non-multitasking iPhone OS, which gives me the same “Whyyyy?” reaction as when I see stories about netbooks running Android. There’s just something kludgy about putting a mobile phone OS on something with a screen that big.
The only device that the iPad really seriously threatens is the Kindle DX and its plus-size brethren, which are the same size and price, but only do eBooks and some MP3s. But I don’t think all that many people own or are looking to pay $500 for a ginormous eBook reader – they want something pocket or purse-sized, which the iPad is not.
This is not a shortcoming of the iPad itself, which I actually think is pretty cool, and probably the best possible implementation of the iPhone OS in a larger form-factor – it’s a shortcoming of the tablet computing genre as a whole, and the reason why it’s never caught on. It’s not as capable as a netbook (especially now that the next generation has better screens, better HD video capabilities, better battery life and bigger hard drives) and not as portable as an iPhone. It might carve out a niche as a prestige device, or as an eBook Reader/Media Player Plus, or as an art/graphic design tablet, but I just can’t see it catching fire, for the same reason that tablets have never caught fire.
I want to want the iPad, but it just doesn’t make a strong enough case for why I would want to pay $500 (or $830) to carry it around.
2 commentsJanuary 28th, 2010 at 11:41amPosted by Eli
House progressives organizing to rescue health care reform are pressuring their Senate counterparts to go back to the provision that has most energized the party and a majority of Americans throughout the debate: The public option.
They argued that the current bill before the House, which passed the Senate, lacks the votes needed to pass because pro-life Democrats don’t believe the abortion restrictions go far enough and progressive Democrats don’t like the lack of a public option, the weak affordability measures or the tax on private insurance. And nobody likes the Cornhusker Kickback, a provision won by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that would cover the state’s Medicaid bills in perpetuity. Not even Nelson likes it anymore.
So, in order to move health care through the House, Democrats either need to pick up progressives or conservatives. And the budget reconciliation process does not lend itself to altering abortion language reform, because that wouldn’t have a direct, substantial impact on the budget.
That leaves progressives as the bloc available to pick up. Their demands — changes related to the tax on insurance, a Medicaid or Medicare expansion, and a public option — would likely be allowable using reconciliation. (The Senate parliamentarian would have the final say.)
Two House freshmen, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), circulated a letter, looking for signatures, that will be delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday on behalf of the plan, Polis told HuffPost.
If Reid and President Obama decide that the House Democrats have a workable plan — perhaps the only viable plan left, after the New York Timesdeclared that the brakes had been slammed — they may be able to accomplish it.
Health care reform became less popular, Polis argued, when the public option was taken out but the requirement to buy private insurance or pay a fine remained.
“I think the fading of the public option from the Senate bill really hurt the Democrats’ prospects in the Senate [race], because they were seen as following the typical pattern of tax and spend and caving to insurance companies,” he said.
Pingree and Polis both noted that Obama’s focus on fiscal discipline and cutting spending makes the public option — which the Congressional Budget Office estimates could trim more than $100 billion from the deficit in ten years — that much more appealing.
It would also give Democrats something else to run on in 2010.
If House progressives stay strong and insist that the Senate use reconciliation to restore the public option (and hopefully remove the excise tax), then Obama’s desperation to claim victory on healthcare reform could put the Blue Dogs and Senate Democrats between Barack and a hard place. This is really the only strategy that can make the public option happen, and they’re finally using their leverage to implement it.
If by some miracle the public option does return from the dead and gets passed by both houses as part of healthcare reform (and if the Democrats don’t get routed in November), the politician most responsible for that stunning victory would not be Obama, not Reid or Pelosi, and certainly not Rahm. It would be Raul Grijalva, who has managed to stay strong and keep his caucus together on insisting on the public option (well, moreorless). Without him the House probably would have passed the Senate bill by now without a reconciliation sidecar to fix it, and their constituents would have absolutely hated them for it.
Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres have a suggestion on how to (mostly) get around the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision:
While Congress can’t issue a broad ban on all companies, it can target the very large class that does business with the federal government and ban those companies from “endorsing or opposing a candidate for public office.”
A 2008 Government Accountability Office study found that almost three-quarters of the largest 100 publicly traded firms are federal contractors. If Congress endorsed our proposal, these companies — and tens of thousands of others — would face a stark choice: They could endorse candidates or do business with the government, but they couldn’t do both. When push came to shove, it’s likely that very few would be willing to pay such a high price for their “free speech.”
The Roberts court is skeptical — to put it mildly — of campaign finance restrictions. But it is still highly unlikely that the justices would strike down a law targeting federal contractors. All nine recognize that Congress may restrict free speech when there is a significant risk of corruption. That risk is obvious when corporate speakers are simultaneously doing business with the government.
Our proposal requires only a modest extension of existing law. Federal contractors already are not allowed to “directly or indirectly . . . make any contribution of money or other things of value” to “any political party, committee, or candidate.” This provision arguably bars Big Pharma from launching a media campaign in favor of a candidate who supports its special deals, thereby “indirectly providing” the candidate something “of value.” But it doesn’t cover the case in which contractors threaten to spend millions to oppose senators and representatives who refuse their excessive demands. There is a need, then, for a new statutory initiative: The same anti-corruption rationale that may prohibit contractors from spending millions in favor of candidates requires a statutory prohibition on a negative advertising blitz.
IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but this sounds pretty reasonable to me. Of course, constitutional or not, our corporate-owned Congress still has to pass it.
1 commentJanuary 27th, 2010 at 11:26amPosted by Eli
Big Labor’s top legislative priority, a bill creating an easier way to organize workers, is essentially dead – and its own members were instrumental in killing it.
The victory of Republican Scott Brown’s in last week’s Massachusetts Senate special election that deprived Democrats of a filibuster-proof majority is not only bad news for health care. It also means that Republicans will be able to block the Employee Free Choice Act from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.
Asked if EFCA was dead for the year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the bill’s sponsor, hesitated for several seconds, saying, “Well, it’s, it’s, it’s there. But it doesn’t look too good.” He added: “I’m not going to give up on it. I’ll never give up on it.”
For a year, labor leaders kept their bargain with Congressional Democrats and the White House: health care first, then EFCA. The election of Martha Coakley to fill the seat held for decades by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was supposed to be the last step on a long, twisting road toward moving the legislation forward.
Whether their rank-and-file lost patience or simply didn’t realize the stakes, the decision of most union members in Massachusetts to back Brown rather than Coakley helped put the last nail in a legislative effort that was already on life support.
According to the AFL-CIO’s election night survey of Massachusetts voters, 49 percent of union members voted for Brown compared to 46 percent who backed Coakley. That’s even worse than the findings of a Republican election night survey, which found union voters split 49-48 for Brown and Coakley, respectively.
Of course, the principal reason why MA union voters turned on Obama and the Democrats was their abject failure to deliver on any of their promises. Union leadership may have believed the White House when it strung them along and used the promise of EFCA to extort extract their support (or at least non-opposition) for the terrible Senate healthcare reform bill, but the rank-and-file was apparently paying closer attention to Obama’s track record on progressive initiatives.
Obama and the Democrats were never going to exert any more effort for EFCA than they did for the public option, and MA union voters knew it.
I know, I’ve never heard of him either. But he absolutely dismantles the corruption and self-destructive fecklessness of Obama and congressional (especially Senate) Democrats, who look more and more like Republican double agents every day.
Apparently Senate Democrats are determined to ensure an electoral bloodbath in November. They’re finally talking about a budget reconciliation “sidecar” to fix the godawful bill the House is currently sitting on, but even though they only need 50 votes to pass it, they still don’t want to restore the public option or eliminate the excise tax – except for union workers, which will have the brilliant two-fer effect of making America hate Democrats and unions.
I seem to remember seeing some polling that Americans actually like the public option, and I also seem to remember a bunch of progressive Representatives promising not to vote for any bill that doesn’t have a public option. Was I hallucinating all of that? Was it all just some kind of fever dream?
So let me get this straight – after his brilliant float-above-the-fray strategy resulted in a hideously compromised Senate healthcare reform bill which Americans hate so much that it cost the Democrats a Senate seat in Massachusetts, Obama’s Cunning Plan to fix the healthcare reform mess is… to float above the fray some more?
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is engaged with House progressives, trying to tease out a solution to the health care reform impasse–but he says that at the highest levels of the Senate and the White House, there’s still no plan, and he doubts whether President Obama will insert himself forcefully into the process.
Brown, who traveled with Obama today in Ohio, tells me “I’ve talked to Reid, I’ve talked to Obama. Unclear yet what the strategy is, but clear interest, strong interest in getting as strong a bill as we can get.”
[H]e doesn’t imagine the President will lay out a way forward in his State of the Union address next week, and he won’t push any buttons in the Senate.
“I doubt if he does, I don’t think he’ll do a procedural thing. I don’t think he will engage in process,” Brown said of State of the Union.
Traveling with Obama today, he and House members from Ohio aired suggestions and opinions about how to get the Senate back into the game–but Obama’s not on the same page. “Everybody had opinions about what the President should do [vis-a-vis the Senate and particular senators],” Brown told me. “But he ain’t bitin’.”
I guess Obama will come out with a forceful statement about how he’s totally rooting for Congress to fix the healthcare bill somehow, and then just sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
Seriously, someone Obama actually listens to needs to get in his ear and tell him that he needs to do everything he can, both publicly and privately, to push the Senate Democrats to pass a strong “sidecar” fix (must restore public option and eliminate excise tax) through budget reconciliation, and push the House Blue Dogs to vote for both the current Senate bill and the sidecar bill.
True, it might still get done without Obama’s help, but does he really want to bet his presidency on it?
The marketplace is now irrelevant – only company size matters. It is just more efficient to beat your competitors by buying legislation than it is by competing in the marketplace. When you can purchase $1 billion in tax breaks, subsidies, mandates, contracts, whatever by spending a few million on candidates/influence, etc. it just makes more sense to do so. The return on investment is just so much higher than building factories, spending on research, paying employees, and other tedious, time-consuming, capital-intensive work.
For some time companies have recognized that the rewards from lobbying outperform the rewards from competing in the marketplace, and this ruling just amplifies that. This 2006 New York Times article, Google Joins the Lobbying Herd, discussed how Google felt it had “no choice but to get into the arena” to start “spreading its lobbying dollars” around to politicians and quotes Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist for Google, saying the “policy process is an extension of the market battlefield.” This supreme court ruling just clinches this shift away from markets.
First American companies made money selling natural resources. Then they made money by selling manufactured goods. Now they make money selling intangible financial products. The next logical step in their evolution is to make money by paying the government to give it to them.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said late on Friday that he supports Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.
“While I will vote for his confirmation, my support is not unconditional,” Reid said in a statement. “I know Chairman Bernanke is committed to transparency and accountability, and that is why I will hold him to the highest standards of both.”
BLOCK: You’re saying that this ruling affects the average citizen expressing his or her voice, as opposed to corporations being allowed to spend freely.
Mr. GINGRICH: Im saying that it allows you to have a middle-class candidate go out and find allies and supporters who are able to help them match the rich. And able to help them match the incumbent. Remember, incumbents run with millions of dollars in congressional staff, congressional franking, congressional travel. And they have all the advantages of being able to issue statements from their incumbent office. And the challenger – the person out there who’s the citizen who’s rebelling, who wants to change things – is at an enormous disadvantage in taking on incumbents.
This will, in fact, level the playing field and allow middle-class candidates to begin to have an opportunity to raise the resources to take on the powerful and the rich.
That’s how you get the opposition to vote with you. Who cares if their feelings are hurt, you’ll get their votes if, and only if, they think their seat is on the line. Politics is almost always a matter of naked self-interest. Make it politically perilous for them to vote against you and all of a sudden they’ll be in a lot more bipartisan mood.
This is one of the few things George Bush did well. Why do you think all those Democrats voted for the Iraq War, because they liked Bush? Because he asked them nicely? No, he made them believe that they will lose their seats if they didn’t vote with him. And all of a sudden, he had a solid bipartisan vote in favor his policy.
It’s time to stand up for what you believe and challenge the craven positions of your opposition. It’s time to show the American people that the Republicans are not on their side. They’re with the bankers and the lobbyists. And we’re coming for them. We’re coming to their house. They can either get out of our way or get crushed. Come on, let’s play ball. Let’s fuck these guys up.
[T]he story of health insurance played right into the story that lies behind the looming tsunami that swept away Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and will sweep away so many more Democratic seats if the Democrats draw the wrong conclusions from this election. The White House just couldn’t seem to “get” that the American people could see that they were constantly coming down on the side of the same bankers who were foreclosing people’s homes and shutting off the credit to small business owners, when they should have been helping the people whose homes were being foreclosed and the small businesses that were trying to stay afloat because of the recklessness of banks that were now starving them. Americans were tired of hearing Obama “exhort” bankers and speculators to play nice as they collected their record bonuses for a heckuva job in 2009. It took him a year to float the idea of making them pay for a fraction of the damage they had done, and at this point, few Americans have any faith that a tax on big banks will ever become law or that the costs won’t just be passed on to them in new fees.
….A stimulus — including a jobs program — strong enough to prevent the hemorrhaging of 700,000 jobs a month and a muscular approach to the bad actors who had crashed the economy would have gotten the public firmly behind the President and the Democrats, demonstrating to the average voter that they have a choice between one party that’s on their side and another that’s not. Instead, the White House just blurred the lines between the parties so the average American couldn’t tell the difference.
With all its efforts to tack to the center, the White House missed the point. The issue isn’t about right or left. It’s about whose side you’re on. In Massachusetts, the voters believe they know. It’s now up to the President and his party to convince the American people otherwise.
The bottom line is that Obama and the Democrats need to make it clear that they are the party of the American people, and the Republicans are the party of the corporations. Dare the Republicans to vote against the American people in a time of economic crisis, just like Bush (dishonestly) dared the Democrats to vote against national security in a time of irrational fear. Clearly and aggressively define what the Republicans are voting for or against, and make them own it.
It is truly amazing that anyone can look at a shocking Democratic loss in Massachusetts and conclude that it’s a backlash against liberal overreach. Does anyone really seriously believe that Obama and the Democrats have been too liberal for Massachusetts? Really? Especially when they’ve fallen far short of enacting the platform they were overwhelmingly elected on? But if one doesn’t trust logic and common sense, one can always check the polling:
HEALTH CARE BILL OPPONENTS THINK IT “DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH”
by 3 to 2 among Obama voters who voted for Brown
by 6 to 1 among Obama voters who stayed home
(18% of Obama supporters who voted supported Brown.)
VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT THE PUBLIC OPTION
82% of Obama voters who voted for Brown
86% of Obama voters who stayed home
OBAMA VOTERS WANT DEMOCRATS TO BE BOLDER
57% of Brown voters say Obama “not delivering enough” on change he promised
49% to 37% among voters who stayed home
Oh yeah, that’s a real clear call for centrism, all right.
Here’s what I’m seeing: In 2000, Ralph Nader basically ran on a platform of “Republicans and Democrats are all corporate whores, there’s no real difference between them.” The economy was in great shape at the tail end of a pro-corporate but generally successful Democratic presidency, so his message fell on deaf ears. If it ain’t broke, etc.
Then Dubya and his pet Congress subject us to eight years of truly disastrous policy that enriches corporations and wealth at the expense of everyone else. By 2005, America is thoroughly sick of it and starts voting Republicans out en masse in 2006, culminating in a Democratic president and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress in 2009, not to mention a frightening economic collapse engineered by years of unconditional corporatism.
And what happened? Nothing. This Democratic president and overwhelmingly Democratic Congress continue to coddle, protect, and bail out the same corporations who crashed the economy while doing nothing for their victims. Americans swept in the Democrats expecting change and reform, and got more of the godawful corporate same. If ever there was a time for them to be receptive to Nader’s message that both parties are indistinguishable corporate whores, it would be now, when the economy is struggling and the Democrats are following the same corrupt and foolish path as the Republicans (whose awfulness is still very fresh in everyone’s minds).
I don’t know that it will be Nader himself (in fact, I expect it won’t be), but to me it looks like the conditions are ripe for a populist throw-all-the-bums-out third party to make an impact in the 2012 election cycle. I don’t know whether it’ll be tea partiers from the right (that’d be my bet) or greens from the left, or even some weird coalition of both, but someone is going to capitalize on the “I voted for the Democrats and nothing changed, but I don’t want the Republicans back either” frustration that’s bubbling up out there, mark my words.
1 commentJanuary 21st, 2010 at 11:35amPosted by Eli
Right now there are a lot of discussions going on about the best path forward. But let’s be clear that the President’s preference is to pass a bill that meets the principles he laid out months ago: more stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage options for those who don’t, and lower costs for families, businesses, and governments.
Oh right; it was when Obama said he had a strong preference for the public option. And look how well that turned out.
Photos have been released now of a post operative Heidi Montag. On November 20, 2009, she went under at least 10 surgeries in one day to achieve physical perfection. Her hips thighs and neck were liposuctioned, botox injected, chin reduced, and breasts enlarged. But her quest for perfection didn’t stop there. The former The Hills star paid for doctors to implant robotic devices to give her bionic super powers.
Weekly World News has discovered that heiress and reality TV star Heidi Montag now has powers far beyond those of any mortal man. A team of 10 surgeons, 4 robotics specialists, and 3 auto mechanics spent 23 hours in surgery giving Montag her cosmetic updates and bionic implants.
Now the slight framed starlet is stronger than an Olylmpic weight lifter and can outrun a cheetah. Lab tests show her lifting 185 lbs with her kegels. Optical and auditory implants increase her vision and hearing ten-fold. She also has a USB port and wifi. With the enhancements complete, Heidi says, “Now I’m stronger, faster, fiercer!”
When asked what she will do with her newfound powers, Montag says she will “Be Fierce!” When asked exactly what that entails she said, “UGH! You just don’t understand!” After a mild hissy fit about how no one understands her, she continued, “I am going to so much fiercer now. Now I can spot haters or paparazzi from literally a mile away. And dress sales, forget about it. And I can hear what’s going on at the other end of the room, so I’ll always know who’s saying what and know all the gossip. How awesome is that?! And my new album is coming out soon! So the choreography for that is going to be amazing. It’s going to be better than Madonna, like the actual mother of Jesus, if she’d put on a concert. And I like don’t have to worry about getting exhausted from touring, just plug me into the wall, give me some frozen yogurt and I’m good.”
Reporters asked Montag if she would be using her super human abilities to help her fellow man. She replied, “Hey, I’m a role model! I lift people out of their boring dull lives by showing them how awesome life can be when you’re young, beautiful, rich, famous, and now super powered. That’s like a public service!”
You go, girl! Preferably someplace far, far away.
1 commentJanuary 20th, 2010 at 11:17amPosted by Eli
If the voters think you’re accomplishing most of what they think you promised to accomplish, you’ll probably get re-elected. If they don’t, you probably won’t.
Obama managed to charm voters into believing that he had promised more than he actually did, but so far has delivered far less than he actually promised.
Here’s a partial composite list of things that Obama promised, or that those who voted for him think he promised:
Universal healthcare that doesn’t suck
Financial reform to restructure Wall Street and punish its malefactors of great wealth
Jobs/economic stimulus/mortgage relief
Shifting the tax burden back towards the rich
Emphasis on green energy and jobs/significant reductions of greenhouse emissions
Government transparency/restoration of respect for the Constitution and rule of law
Reduction of lobbyist influence
Abolition of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Closing of Gitmo
Withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan
Accountability for Bush administration criminals
I can’t think of a single item on this list that Obama has come even close to achieving, or even made a good-faith effort to achieve. I’d say that he was comparatively most successful on jobs and economic stimulus, but 10% unemployment isn’t exactly something to brag about.
Obama and the Democrats got their performance review yesterday. If they don’t start showing some serious improvement in the quality of their work product over the next nine months, a whole bunch of them are going to get fired.
If Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the seat recently occupied by the late-Ted Kennedy, one alternative has the House passing the [healthcare reform] bill the Senate approved just before Christmas last year, with a promise to make additional changes through the upcoming budget process.
Under the scenario, the House would approve the Senate bill, sending it to the president’s desk for his signature. The White House and Senate negotiators would then have to promise to push further changes – such as those hashed out by negotiators last week – through the reconciliation process, in which the majority only needs 51 votes.
The problem, though, with reconciliation is that it can only be used for things that have an impact on the federal budget. That would not relate to insurance reforms already in both bills and may limit the room for future negotiators.
Unless I’m very much mistaken, reconciliation also would not be able to strip out the anti-abortion Nelson amendment. It would also be interesting to see whether the Democrats recalibrate the reconciliation bill to attract 51 votes instead of 60, or to at least track closely to the not-a-complete-corporate-giveaway House bill.
Of course, in my earlier post I suggested that any budget reconciliation talk would merely be an empty promise to trick reluctant Democrats into supporting the godawful Senate bill, and I still believe that’s the case. Some unexpected “snag” or procedural maneuver by the Republicans would occur that would cause the reconciliation process to collapse, leaving the House Democrats (and us) with nothing.
As a longtime Paul Krugman fan, it has been sad and disappointing to watch him advocate for the terrible Senate healthcare bill, and repeatedly defend John Gruber for shilling said bill without disclosing all the money the administration paid him. Overall, his heart’s still in the right place, but this one giant blind spot takes him to some interesting and uncomfortable places:
The Obama administration’s troubles are the result not of excessive ambition, but of policy and political misjudgments. The stimulus was too small; policy toward the banks wasn’t tough enough; and Mr. Obama didn’t do what Ronald Reagan, who also faced a poor economy early in his administration, did — namely, shelter himself from criticism with a narrative that placed the blame on previous administrations.
It’s important to remember, also, how important health care reform is to the Democratic base. Some activists have been left disillusioned by the compromises made to get legislation through the Senate — but they would have been even more disillusioned if Democrats had simply punted on the issue.
And politics should be about more than winning elections. Even if health care reform loses Democrats’ votes (which is questionable), it’s the right thing to do.
Democrats have to do whatever it takes to enact a health care bill. Passing such a bill won’t be their political salvation — but not passing a bill would surely be their political doom.
So, on the one hand, Obama and the Democrats are in trouble because they went half-assed, compromised and corporatist on the stimulus and financial reform… but on the other hand, they’ll be in even more trouble if they don’t pass half-assed, compromised and corporatist healthcare reform. Mr. Krugman needs to make up his mind.
So let me get this straight: Obama and the Democrats win a decisive landslide election on a message of Change in general and healthcare reform in particular, then proceed to pervert it into a series of capitulations and corporate giveaways… but the reason that a Democrat is struggling to win Teddy Kennedy’s seat in one of the most progressive states in the country against a transparently dishonestscumbag is that Obama is too liberal?
Yes, Ad Nags really does try to make that case, with help from some Republicans and progressive Democratic stalwarts like Evan Bayh and Bob Kerrey. It’s insane on its face, yet far too many pivotal Democrats (Rahm Emanuel comes to mind) and their consultants buy into this belief that every Democratic defeat is a repudiation of progressivism and every Democratic victory is a vindication of corporate centrism.
And what’s the result? Every single time, the progressive Democratic base gets demoralized and stays home, and the Democrats get their asses kicked… which they promptly interpret as a sign that their raging liberalism scared off the swing voters and they have to move farther to the right.
If Coakley loses, or even wins by less than 20 points, Obama & Co. should take heed that maybe, just maybe, “Vote for Coakley or forever lose your once-in-a-lifetime chance to be forced to buy shitty private health insurance” is not an inspiring GOTV message, not even if you try to pretend that Teddy would have wanted it that way.
I think there are at least two factors working together in the Democrats’ string of corporate sellouts. One is that they have absolutely no stomach for taking on the powerful economic elites (which they themselves are in fact members of), and the other is the media red shift wherein right-wing positions are described as “centrist” and broadly popular positions are described as “left” or “far left”.
The media reinforce the Democrats’ belief that their moneyed elite bubble is somehow representative of America, and reassuring them that selling out on healthcare or financial reform is okay because only the far left radical crazy fringe wants real reform, and surely it’s never bad to repudiate or ignore radical crazies, right?
One final point about the difference between Democrats and Republicans and their relationship with their bases: Where the Democrats display so little loyalty or respect for a base they apparently see as embarrassing leftist hippies, the Republicans embrace theirs, at least publicly (of course, thanks to the media, even the craziest of teabaggers are considered merely “conservative” rather than “batshit insane”).
They stroke them, they identify them, and they always make sure they look like they’re fighting for them. True, they don’t always win (abortion and homosexuality are still legal, after all), but it’s because they don’t have the numbers, not because they compromise their objectives into oblivion. As I’ve said before and will continue saying, it is better to fight for the right thing and lose than to fight for the wrong thing and win.