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The truth about the "public option".
October 6, 2010 6:51 AM   Subscribe

According to Tom Daschle, the "public option" for healthcare reform was never really on the table.
posted by jhandey (232 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish I was surprised. I guess the dems lie to the left about progressive things like this the same way the reps lie to the right about overturning Roe v. Wade.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:53 AM on October 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


Ah, another item for the "no shit, Sherlock" file.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:55 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hate it when my crackpot conspiracies turn out to be 100% absolutely true-and-truly-for-true.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:57 AM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


If those who would have benefited from (or who supported) a public option had turned off the fucking Real Housewives and bitching that Obama is a centrist online and gotten as active in the debate as the wackos on the right did, it would have been on the table.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:00 AM on October 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


(that's "*quit* bitching")
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:01 AM on October 6, 2010


“Effectiveness at the conference table depends upon overstating one’s demands.”

- Henry Kissinger
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:02 AM on October 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


Liberals in Washington. I sure wish we had some.
posted by Palquito at 7:04 AM on October 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


If those who would have benefited from (or who supported) a public option had turned off the fucking Real Housewives and bitching that Obama is a centrist online and gotten as active in the debate as the wackos on the right did, it would have been on the table.

Wow, really? This is both nonfactual and cruel.
posted by muddgirl at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


If those who would have benefited from (or who supported) a public option had turned off the fucking Real Housewives and bitching that Obama is a centrist online and gotten as active in the debate as the wackos on the right did, it would have been on the table.

the hospital association and the insurers have a seat at the table - we don't - the wackos on the right don't have one either, which is why so much of what they hated passed

we don't own our congress, the corporations do
posted by pyramid termite at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


This sucks, but is somewhat understandable in book, in terms of getting something passed.

My only question now is "How do we get a Public Option?"
posted by nomadicink at 7:12 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Prescient article from The Onion today: American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress.
"Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals," a statement from the nation read in part. "Jack Weldon gives us that access."

"His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table," the statement continued. "And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington."

posted by 2bucksplus at 7:13 AM on October 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


> My only question now is "How do we get a Public Option?"

Assassinate lobbyists.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 AM on October 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow, really? This is both nonfactual and cruel.

Didn't mean it to sound cruel, but it was angry. We were lapped by the far right when we could have put more shoulder into the fight. That's my analysis. The level of apathy among Americans who stand to gain the most from a progressive agenda -- young people, the poor and working-class, urbanites -- is the problem the left faces in the upcoming election. It's as if, having elected President Obama, we could all go back to sleep.

I'm as guilty as anyone of coasting for too long on the high of that election. But we can't stop fighting.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, fourcheesemac, that's pretty much exactly the opposite of the message of the linked article. The point is it was never on the table. Never gonna be. The administration believed that the table would only exist in the first place if the murdered corpse of single-payer was buried underneath it first, to sanctify the ground.

No amount of activity by the left was going to change that.
posted by rusty at 7:20 AM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Ironically, this little tempest in a teapot says more about the efforts Team Obama has devoted to neutralizing critics on the left, so that people who dare speak the unvarnished truth like Greenwald are rejected as heretics. A more confident President would go after worthier and more important targets, meaning opponents to his agenda, rather than make sure he has an echo chamber among his constituents.

But that of course presupposes that Obama really intended to stand for something. It looks instead that his real aim is to merely be a placeholder, and create a lot of legislative bustle that produces little in the way of progress as a way to buy off opponents and create a useful smokescreen.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:21 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I didn't like Clinton very much, and despised Bush, but I think Obama is probably the worst, and certainly the most dangerous, of the three. He does the exact same things that Bush did, but he's better able to cloak his lies in rhetoric. Until his term, the continued loss of civil liberties, the War on Terror, and the slide into insolvency weren't guaranteed. We could still have turned back from the brink. But he's forced us onto those paths, and all but guaranteed the destruction of the Republic. I don't know how soon it will happen, but at this point it's just watching financial gravity work ... the outcome is inevitable, the only interesting bit is the path we'll take to get there.

I had such hopes that he could actually deliver on those amazing speeches, but he turned out to be an absolutely miserable leader. On the rare occasions he actually does any leading, it's straight into the darkness.
posted by Malor at 7:22 AM on October 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


We were lapped by the far right when we could have put more shoulder into the fight. That's my analysis. The level of apathy among Americans who stand to gain the most from a progressive agenda -- young people, the poor and working-class, urbanites -- is the problem the left faces in the upcoming election. It's as if, having elected President Obama, we could all go back to sleep.

Except I was there, and that's not how it happened. This is buying directly into some weird CYA message being propagated by the White House in recent weeks.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


If those who would have benefited from (or who supported) a public option had turned off the fucking Real Housewives and bitching that Obama is a centrist online and gotten as active in the debate as the wackos on the right did, it would have been on the table.

Those who benefit most in this country from a public option are the poor, often minority working class and impoverished, who are most often not, you know, privileged mostly-white douchebags with blogs telling the peons that once again they didn't clap hard enough, and more importantly they're not primarily their readers.

I don't understand how many times it has to be said that when a candidate campaigns on passing a public option, and then we all, duh, vote for him, that's being active in the fucking debate. Excuuuuuuuuse us for assuming that the person we rallied behind wasn't full of shit. If only we had better blogs like those geniuses to explain why in the real world our disappointment is just all in our heads.

We are not blogging our way out of fucked, you morons. Ineffective tweet coverage is not why Democrats have lost 15% of the Latino vote in the last goddamn year. But hey, you know what would really help? Making another whiny comment about how those people didn't work hard enough. That is totally going to get their asses back in the voting booth a second time as opposed to, I don't know, actually doing what they they were promised. I'm really sick of being told that I'm not doing enough by a bunch of bloggers who enjoy the convenience of their superior activism not requiring even leaving their fucking basement.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:29 AM on October 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR: "I'm really sick of being told that I'm not doing enough by a bunch of bloggers who enjoy the convenience of their superior activism not requiring even leaving their fucking basement."

Pah, you're just Some Guy With A Website. ;)
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:33 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like the Obama campaign itself, the public option was never more than a brand. It was a container designed to fit our hopes and dreams just well enough and just long enough to close the deal, an empty wrapper, with little or no candy inside. Our so-called “progressives” in Congress knew all along it was a fraud, but they played along.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:35 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think anyone who succeeds in being equally hated by the far left and the far right has got to be doing something right.
posted by spaceviking at 7:35 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I might suggest:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
posted by JHarris at 7:36 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what? I'm frustrated as hell that the public option didn't make it in there. I wrote to my senators explaining my desire for it.

But a public option would've made health care reform less popular in congress, not more. It would've alienated exactly the people we ended up needing to get this passed, and let's remember that it squeaked into passage with just shy of unanimous republican opposition. It would appear that taking it off the table was the correct strategic decision in that light. I don't like being lied to, but I've never pretended Obama wasn't a politician... I just believe he's on my side.

Greenwald is also being disingenuous about the 60/50 vote thing. Reform ultimately passed via reconciliation, but what passed was essentially the senate bill with some tweaks because of the Brown victory in MA. The senate bill had previously been (barely) passed with 60 votes, and from the sounds of things it was an open secret that the public option was off the table by the time that senate vote was taken.

There's a theory that we could've reconciled the public option into the bill as a budgetary measure, but that's a stretch that would've been hard to sell to the public (who had already turned against the reform efforts). It would've been harder to sell to conservative democrats who were already in a lose-lose situation. It would also have been a giant bullseye painted on the legislation for repeal efforts and legal challenges.

I want a public option. We'll get there if progressive interests don't fall to infighting. I said at the time reform passed, that this is just the starting line. It's not perfect, but it's a remarkable achievement made only more astounding by its success in this harsh political climate. We've already lost the momentum of that victory, sadly, but the fact of the victory means we can do it again.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:36 AM on October 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


This is buying directly into some weird CYA message being propagated by the White House in recent weeks.

The question: Why does the Obama Administration feel it needs to cover it's ass. It claims to be proud of HCR, and yet, it's covering it's ass.

Perhaps that's because they blatantly catered to conservative dems -- who moved to kill the bill at every opportunity, if they didn't get what they wanted, and then called liberals "Fucking Retarded!" if they dared to try the same thing.

A simple way to tell who's against you is to look at who's attacking you.

So, the answer is simple.

The Obama Administration, and the Pelosi/Reid lead congress, blatantly and explicitly lied to liberals.

And yet, they want us to vote for them. They haven't figured out why it's called the base. They've ignored and insulted them (because the liberal base is smaller than the whackjob base the GOP has) and now they're down in the polls and panicking.

Enjoy the last two years of your presidency, Obama. You thought Clinton had it bad? You had our support, and you told us to fuck off.

We have.

Have fun with that.
posted by eriko at 7:37 AM on October 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I thought this was well-known fact? I'd love a public option but we were never going to get that much reform all at once.
posted by Skorgu at 7:39 AM on October 6, 2010


No, no, you don't understand; they couldn't push the public option because the Republicans would have called them socialists
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:40 AM on October 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


I thought this was well-known fact?

Yeah, exactly. The Democratic-majority Senate started from a position without any public option and negotiated towards insurance reform from there.

I don't think Obama deserves much blame for HCR - in my eyes Reid has been such a waste of a Senate Leader.
posted by muddgirl at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yet, they want us to vote for them.

I'm all ears on who else you can vote for that is more liberal/progressive. If you're still in the "fuck off, I'm not voting mood" that's your choice, but please don't pretend you're doing anything but helping Republicans.

To be clear, I have zero problem, with people holding Obama's feet to the fire and saying "Public Option, WTF man?!". I have zero problem with people pushing for a Public Option and being untrustworthy with the Obama administration about getting.

My problem is with left leaning people who are threatening to leave the party and/or not vote. That doesn't seem to be a viable option and winds up handing shit to the Republican party, which is currently in crazy mode. Those fuckers, and I'm using that terms quite specifically, shouldn't be setting national policy.

So yeah, I understand being pissed about Obama and I think it's fine. I'm just asking that you use that anger constructively to push for more from him, that's all.
posted by nomadicink at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


As a liberal who is disappointed in Obama but just sent an overseas ballot back home with straight down the line "D" votes I feel completely justified in saying this:

I'm tired of the shit sandwiches, President Obama. And fuck you, Rahm.
posted by bardic at 7:47 AM on October 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Of course Taibbi called it at the time:

Who among us did not know this would happen? It’s been clear from the start that the Democrats would make a great show of doing something real, then they would fold prematurely, ram through some piece-of-shit bill with some incremental/worthless change in it, and then in the end blame everything on Max Baucus and Bill Nelson, saying, “By golly, we tried our best!”

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.

The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. ...

It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:49 AM on October 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


My problem is with left leaning people who are threatening to leave the party and/or not vote. That doesn't seem to be a viable option and winds up handing shit to the Republican party, which is currently in crazy mode. Those fuckers, and I'm using that terms quite specifically, shouldn't be setting national policy.

I understand your point, but what then would you say progressives should do to get party leaders to pay attention to their agenda? They already donate their time and money to the party, as well as voting for party candidates. What else do they have but the threat of not donating and not voting to hold over the heads of their leaders? After awhile people just get tired of being played for suckers.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:50 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oops. "A while" not "awhile".

*wanders off to get coffee*
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2010


What does "holding Obama's feet to the fire" mean if not threatening to leave the party and/or not vote? A sternly worded letter? That'll show him.
posted by gerryblog at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, I didn't like Clinton very much, and despised Bush, but I think Obama is probably the worst, and certainly the most dangerous, of the three.

So Sarah Palin in 2012?
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Am I the only one not disillusioned by Obama? As far as I can tell, he's pretty much the only Democrat who's stayed on message, and actually seems to want to make things better for the people of his country.

If you want to be mad at somebody, you should be furious at the 111th Congress, which might possibly be the most ineffective and divisive legislature we've assembled since the Civil War.

Of course, those races barely receive any airtime, and yet the House and Senate really do hold the true power in the American government. Most people can't even name their senators.
posted by schmod at 7:57 AM on October 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


So Sarah Palin in 2012?

If you set the bar any lower, it will be underground.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:00 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is sad. It's sad how much power corporations have to dominate politics.

But I suggest we acknowledge that healthcare reform, which had the support of the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and the hospitals, barely passed. It was excruciating.

Can we then concede the strong possibility that by demanding a public option, with the 24-7 opposition of the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies and the hospitals, and the commercials and the lobbyists and the parroting pundits, Obama would simply have repeated Bill Clinton's achievement of no reform at all?

Politics is the art of the possible. In front of overwhelmingly powerful corporate interests, Obama was able to achieve something substantial rather than nothing at all. This bill saves lives. I believe Obama doesn't concede ground to corporations out of malevolence or for personal gain, but because today, in this country, it's the only way to get significant things done.

Some liberals are going to want to stay home and wait for a Republican congress and a Republican president. I know you miss the glory days of absolute opposition to Bush, when things were less intellectually frustrating and with fewer grey areas. But it only takes five minutes of listening to Rush Limbaugh or watching Fox News to recognise that there is a difference between these parties, and if liberals stay home, this country is going to hurt.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2010 [41 favorites]


So Sarah Palin in 2012?

Good lord, no. Think: The Donald, President of Trump United States Casino and Resort.

It'd be nothing if not entertaining. And AMAZING. Isn't it AMAZING?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:04 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Several points:

1) It's not like they just gave away the public option. They got some pretty large concessions from the medical establishment in return. It's called negotiation--one of the things that happens is that you have to compromise.

2) Lentrohamsanin's analogy is a good one. Every election cycle, Republicans promise to do everything in their power to overturn Roe v. Wade without actually intending to mount a serious offense. They too 'lie to their base.' The thing is, the Republican base either doesn't realize it or doesn't give a shit. Either they're too dumb to notice a recurring pattern (Republicans keep getting voted in, abortions keep being legal), or to them it's more about seeing their team win than any actual issues. Democratic voters tend to be more intelligent and issue-oriented, which ultimately leads to this kind of disgust and malaise with the party that has lately been all over metafilter and the left wing of the party in general.

2a) Sorry people, Obama is a politican, so are all Democrats. Lies, slime, backroom deals, lobbyist pressure, etc. is still the norm. It's naive to think that will ever change, or that pressure from the self-styled 'base' of the Democratic party will change that. The fact of the matter is that well-educated left-wing urban intellectuals are not the base of the Democratic party. The party is such a loose coalition of often divergent interests (minorities, unions, professors, environmentalists, etc.) that it can't really be said to have a base in the way the Republican party does. You (the 'metafilter liberal') are just one small segment of a diverse pie, and the fact is you are the farthest left (especially on the healthcare issue), and therefore most easily marginalized, part of the party. You also know the most, and so are the most demanding. It is simply not in the interest of the Democratic Party to cater to your demands, which the rest of the electorate (including most Democrats) sees as incomprehensible, alien, and radical.

2b) It is still irresponsible not to support the Democrats, even if you must do it through gritted teeth. Just look at the alternative. It's amazing to me that in one breath people can curse the American electorate for having such short memories (did they forget Bush already?) then in the next say they'll sit out this midterm and refuse to vote for Obama in 2012 because, essentially, 'he's just as bad as the others.' Did you forget Bush already? Did you forget Nader in 2000? And yes, it is your right as an American citizen to cast your vote and conduct your political life no matter how you see fit. But it is your responsibility as an educated person who wants to do the right thing and who lives in a society with 300 million other people in the most powerful country on earth, whose policies shape the lives of billions around the globe, to think rationally, understand that bad is much better than worse, and stop with the whining "but I'm not being catered to... I'm important, look what a good liberal I am" and realize that there's a lot more at stake here than your sense of betrayal. Yes, voting for the Democrats now and in 2012 will not bring you closer to getting a public option. But your protest against the party will fall on deaf ears, and the Republicans you will help elect will lead us farther away from a public option. Same on issues like environmental regulation, sound military policy, fair and judicious fiscal policy, immigration, etc. So grow up, put your bruised ego aside, and make the responsible choice.
posted by notswedish at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


My only question now is "How do we get a Public Option?"

Secede and join Canada?
posted by acb at 8:06 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can we just stop telling people what to do with their vote? It's incredibly patronizing and makes it seem like you think everyone who disagrees with you is a child. Speak in I statements. "I will still vote for Democrats and here is why."
posted by muddgirl at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


what then would you say progressives should do to get party leaders to pay attention to their agenda? They already donate their time and money to the party, as well as voting for party candidates

More time. More money. More voting. More importantly, live a lifestyle that exposes you to the issues. The republicans aren't the majority in this country, but they wipe the floor with us on engagement. That's because the corporatists bring the money and the social conservatives go to church every week and get reminded that the gay is a sin.

What's the progressive version of church (I'm not referring here to progressive churches, which I'm aware exist)? We feel no obligation to spend an hour a week building our progressive community and spreading our values... there's no progressive hell we go to if we skip (well, except President Palin 2012-2020).

How do we channel money to progressive interests when one of the big progressive interests is helping people with no money? How do we convince people to send money when we're accusing each other of being bad for the country instead of the people who are actually bad for the country (when was the last time you actually heard a republican criticize another republican's motives)?

People with time need to give that time. People with money need to give that money, even if it's a small amount. And we have to support the Democratic Party even when we have to grind our teeth doing it, because until we revamp the voting process away from First Past the Post (and best of luck with that), it's a two party system and the lesser evil is less evil (and often good!).

Engagement and solidarity. No one votes in this country. It doesn't matter that the republicans are the minority if they're the ones who show up. We need to show up, and we need to stop bringing a knife to a gun fight and then just cutting ourselves with it.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm just asking that you use that anger constructively to push for more from him, that's all.

How would you suggest we do that? Elect more Blue Dog democrats? Donate to Alan Grayson? Wear some really ironic t-shirt at the Colbert rally?

The only weapon progressive voters have is thier votes, thier time and enthuasism. For the most part they don't have money, and they don't have institutional power. Dems can only play the "well at least we're not Palin/Bush/Angle/Hitler" card so many times before the base gets tired of fighting back little Christine O'Hitlers. If all they want us to do is fight off the rightwing boogieman de jour, at least they can throw us a fucking policy win every once in awhile to make it worth our time and effort. Or act like they at least appreciate our efforts to keep them rolling around in lobbiest money and keep that money out of Hitler Palin's control, rather than kick us in the teeth after we spend years defending them.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:12 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not like they just gave away the public option. They got some pretty large concessions from the medical establishment in return.

LOL

Faced with wide-ranging new requirements in the health care law, the insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaign coffers in hopes of scaling back regulations while preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:12 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Enjoy the last two years of your presidency, Obama. You thought Clinton had it bad? You had our support, and you told us to fuck off.

We have.

Have fun with that.


Enjoy the presidency of whoever Murdoch and the Kochs put in the Whitehouse in 2012.

Obama never was the champion of progressivism. He was, as anyone who climbs to the top of the greasy pole of two-party politics can only ever be, the lesser evil. In such a system, you don't get the luxury of voting for anything but a lesser evil, and if you think that your guy is anything more, you've been had. Having said that, if you don't vote for the lesser evil, you're helping the greater evil get in.
posted by acb at 8:14 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd point and laugh if it wasn't so sad.

Sincerely,
The Esteemed Member from Soviet Canukistan.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:15 AM on October 6, 2010


But I suggest we acknowledge that healthcare reform, which had the support of the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and the hospitals, barely passed. It was excruciating.

...

In front of overwhelmingly powerful corporate interests, Obama was able to achieve something substantial rather than nothing at all.


I'm confused. Were corporate interests for or against the bill? Certainly the health insurance industry was for it, they spent a lot of money lobbying in favor of it.

In any case, I don't think Obama "achieved" anything in the sense of pulling a difficult victory out of a hat. His (and the Dems) goal all along, as the linked article shows (and lots of previous evidence) was a bailout/wealth transfer to the health insurance industry. After all, the other FIRE industries had already had (and continue to have) their time at the trough.

If people are thinking, well, the Republicans gave him a hard time, so he had to compromise - that doesn't count. The Republicans would have acted the way they did regardless of the actual content of the bill. They must flip out and accuse the Dems of being communists/socialists, it's part of the game. The GOP is a red herring in understanding what the Democrats do, you have to look at what they did while ignoring the GOP's actions.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 8:16 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


And given the recent sweeping triumphs of the Tea Party, voting for the lesser evil has never been more important. If/when a Tea Partyised Republican party gets in, things are going to get very ugly.
posted by acb at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2010


I'm with schmod and Riki tiki.

The rules of politics:
(a) Anyone running for office can promise anything, BUT reality is gonna kick them in the head once they get into office.
(b) This is because once you get in, you have to deal with a large, powerful group of assholes who absolutely loathe you and would vote to have the planet nuked and everyone killed just out of spite towards you.
(c) Unfortunately, this being politics, you are stuck having to try to appeal to the jackholes who hate you. And thus you literally can't be as progressive as you want to because you DO have to try to work with people who are totally resistant to you.

So I'm not thrilled about this, but not surprised either. Just remember that Obama can only do so much when a large powerful bunch of assholes that he's forced to work with are utterly set against him.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Democrats remain quite smug in their assumption that we will continue to vote against the greater evil of Republican rule and then turn around and cut exactly the same deal against the public interests that the Republicans would ten years later because of public pressure.

The Democrats miscalculate that anybody will give a rip when they get mauled this election because of their intentional pandering to Republicans instead of supporting their own base.

The only effect I've seen from HCR is my health insurance premiums have increased 58% in one year.

I will continue to vote against Republicans, but it seriously pisses me off that the Democrats would interpret this as supporting them. This is an opinion I gladly share when I get phone bank calls from Democratic volunteers.

What this country needs is more swag for the little man. Distribute the corruption more freely.
posted by warbaby at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


And lest anyone forget, here is Obama entertaining his $30,000-a-plate guests:

... Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there.

Funny how that glass ends up half empty when you pour half the water out of it.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2010


Can we get a more neutral article in the FPP. It is not clear that the public option was traded away. Daschel certainly wanted to trade it away, and was never a supporter; but there is not smoking gun here. In fact given the huge political and media campaign that Healthcare companies have launched to try to undo Obamacare tells you there wasn't a deal. If there was a deal, the president ought to be more forceful in saying that we all made compromises even the insurance companies and they need to live up to their commitment to support the reform efforts.
posted by humanfont at 8:24 AM on October 6, 2010


Yeah, be disgusted by what hasn't happened. I am too. What has happened during the first two years of this term, though, is still more than any administration has done for the left in my entire lifetime.

I want to be clear here: as president, Obama has been more aggressive in pursuing issues I care about, than Carter or Clinton, who both did a bit of good and a bit of bad, then got bum-rushed out of office by conservative shitstormtroopers.

Reagan, Bush and especially Bush2, were various kinds of disasters. (I don't remember Ford's administration because I couldn't really talk yet).

So, healthcare, some stabs at corporate reform, attempts to fix the stupid tax structure, some attempts to dial down the war on drugs, and slow-but-steady removal from the mess of wars leftover from the previous jackass-in-chief. This isn't an ideal world, folks, and our leaders will continue to be shown up as more-or-less ethically bankrupt, beholden-to-corporate-overlords, political figureheads... but I'm still thrilled that some progress has been made. And it's been made in the teeth of screaming, shrilly bigoted, intensely disciplined opposition, and in the face of some of the most propaganda-soaked, viciously corrupt media/politics opposition bullshit that's ever existed.

I'd like more, a lot more, but I'll be damned if I won't assign blame to where it belongs: Republicans. And to not vote the D line, out of disappointment or protest? That'll put a big-ass grin on Karl Rove's face for sure. Hell no.
posted by Erroneous at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


So, wait ... politicians are actually lying, thieving, pandering whores who will say and do anything to get and keep power?

Color me surprised.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:29 AM on October 6, 2010


I'm confused. Were corporate interests for or against the bill?

You're not confused. As I stated, those corporations supported the bill after concessions were made to them in negotiations, including the public option. They would obviously have been strongly opposed had no concessions been made.

His (and the Dems) goal all along, as the linked article shows (and lots of previous evidence) was a bailout/wealth transfer to the health insurance industry.

I... uh... I think there would be easier ways of doing that. This is like walking on hot coals to warm your feet.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2010


I'm not sure if Joe Beese likes Obama.

I'm not sure if some of you understand politicing involves sacrificing some ends to meet others.

I'm not sure this type of hand wringing is at all useful.
posted by cavalier at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we get a more neutral article in the FPP. It is not clear that the public option was traded away... there is no smoking gun here

There's also no "smoking gun" like a document in Bush's handwriting saying "I lied about WMD so I could invade Iraq for its oil - tee hee". But I'm assuming that situation was "clear" enough for you?

The New York Times - August 2009: Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying Medicare rates — generally 80 percent of private sector rates — or controlled by the secretary of health and human services.

Russ Feingold - December 2009: This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place...
posted by Joe Beese at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I'm not sure this type of hand wringing is at all useful.

It's the internet, silly. MeFi is noise just like the rest.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My only question now is "How do we get a Public Option?"

I don't think the lack of a public option is as big of a loss as it seems to commentators here. I found conservative Charles Krauthammer's take on the health care bill after it passed very interesting:
Obamacare turns the health insurance companies into utilities, their every significant move dictated by government regulators. The public option was a sideshow. [...] Obamacare is government health care by proxy, single-payer through a facade of nominally "private" insurers.
Now he is talking as if this is negative but if you like the idea of single-payer health care then it should provide some solace.
posted by bobo123 at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2010


You had our support, and you told us to fuck off.

Uh, what? Reid, maybe. Not Obama.

The man isn't king. He cannot magically will legilation into existence. It needs to pass the house and senate before he even gets to make a decision on it.

From my perspective, Obama's done a fine job, whilst the Hose and Senate have grievously derelicted their duties.
posted by schmod at 8:37 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You also know the most, and so are the most demanding. It is simply not in the interest of the Democratic Party to cater to your demands, which the rest of the electorate (including most Democrats) sees as incomprehensible, alien, and radical.

Maybe not as incomprehensible, alien and radical as you think. From the AP article linked to within the "neutral" story suggested above to replace Glenn Greenwald's frothing radicalism:

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture's not that clear cut.

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1....

...The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

The AP poll was conducted by Stanford University with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Overall, 30 percent favored the legislation, while 40 percent opposed it, and another 30 percent remained neutral.

Those numbers are no endorsement for Obama's plan, but the survey also found a deep-seated desire for change that could pose a problem for Republicans. Only 25 percent in the poll said minimal tinkering would suffice for the health care system.

posted by jhandey at 8:38 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


the insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaign coffers in hopes of scaling back regulations while preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage.

Occasionally I read something that sets of a powerful urge in me to grab a torch and go and burn something down.

This was one of them.
posted by quin at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


... Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there.

Y'know, I must be just incredibly fucking stupid, because this is probably like the tenth time you've posted a link to this quote in the last two weeks, and I still don't understand why it's as damning as you seem to think it is. Could someone explain?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, be disgusted by what hasn't happened. I am too. What has happened during the first two years of this term, though, is still more than any administration has done for the left in my entire lifetime.

It's more than Democrats will do for you for the rest of your lifetime, too. Democrats won't have 59 Senate seats and this sort of House majority again for a long time, if ever -- not to mention a very popular incoming president in the midst of a deep crisis unambiguously caused by the failed policies of the other party. That was the once-in-a-generation chance for change. It's gone now.

If you want social justice and environmental sustainability, if you're committed to these issues, you've just received all the proof you should need that you'll never get it out of the two-party politics America currently has.

People on the left who are serious about results, not just about making Karl Rove and Sarah Palin cry, need to start thinking about how to get what they want without relying on national Democrats "to do the right thing." Because they won't. They just spent the last years telling you so.

This isn't an ideal world, folks, and our leaders will continue to be shown up as more-or-less ethically bankrupt, beholden-to-corporate-overlords, political figureheads... but I'm still thrilled that some progress has been made.

Can't help but think of what they used to write on walls in the 60s: Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible. You're not going to get a better world through a pragmatic pessimism that cheerlessly accepts the quarter loaf because "this isn't an ideal world."
posted by gerryblog at 8:45 AM on October 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


So the new development here is that someone writing about someone's book said a certain compromise happened in August 2009 really happened when there were many who were denying?
posted by the cydonian at 8:46 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If/when a Tea Partyised Republican party gets in, things are going to get very ugly.

I really hate to say this because I don't wish for it, and I don't wish suffering on the many people who would certainly suffer significantly if this happened, but you know, maybe a period of "very very ugly indeed" is what it would take to get people to stop thinking of compassion, community, and one nanosecond of self-sacrifice as dirty words.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:50 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I must be just incredibly fucking stupid, because this is probably like the tenth time you've posted a link to this quote in the last two weeks, and I still don't understand why it's as damning as you seem to think it is.

I'll let Glennzilla explain:

What's most striking about Obama's comments is that there is no acceptance whatsoever of responsibility ("I've failed in some critical areas; we could have/should have done better"). There's not even any base-motivating vow to fight to fix these particular failures ("we'll keep fighting for a public option/to curb executive power abuses/to reduce lobbyist and corporate control of our political process)". Instead, he wants you to know that if you criticize him -- or even question what he's done ("well, I don't know about this particular derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that") -- it's your fault: for being some sort of naive, fringe-leftist idiot who thought he would eliminate the Pentagon and bring about world peace in 18 months, and/or because you simply don't sufficiently appreciate everything he's done for you because you're congenitally dissatisfied.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:50 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.

A more positive image that Taibbi could have used: this is pretty much what LBJ used to do, the result was called "the Great Society".
posted by gimonca at 8:51 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


--You know, I didn't like Clinton very much, and despised Bush, but I think Obama is probably the worst, and certainly the most dangerous, of the three.--

That goes down as the most hyperbolic and asinine comment I have ever read on Mefi and that's saying something. Congratulations.
posted by peacay at 8:53 AM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Me: You know, I didn't like Clinton very much, and despised Bush, but I think Obama is probably the worst, and certainly the most dangerous, of the three.

octothorpe: So Sarah Palin in 2012?

You know, it's really disappointing to see this kind of nonsense here on MeFi. Can you drop the team thinking for a little while and look at the bigger picture?

Obama is a disaster. Bush was also a disaster, which means Palin isn't going to be any goddamn better than he was. I'd never vote for her, but cynically, I do have to observe that she might be less dangerous than Obama, because she's an idiot. Obama is highly intelligent, but appears largely unprincipled. He makes amazing speeches, but when the rubber hits the road, he seems just as willing to break out the hot knives on 'the turrists' and shoot people simply for being suspected of a crime.

I mean, remember that awesome speech he made about extraordinary rendition being illegal and unconstitutional? He said he was going to fix it once he was President. When he tried to fix it, it was by making extraordinary rendition legal, not by stopping that heinous practice. He actually tried for a two-track justice system, one that he was in complete charge of with no oversight, and the regular one for citizens who happened to be popular with the government this year.

How much more proof do you need that that man shouldn't be anywhere near that office? I mean, what, does he have to fucking eat babies to prove he's not worthy of being President? We used to rail about Bush's stupidities, and how incredibly frustrating it was that the conservatives would back him no matter what. Well, guess what? It's happening in reverse. Obama is going FARTHER than Bush did, MUCH farther, but all you see on MeFi is occasional grumbling, mostly shouted down by "he's better than the alternative".

When are people going to realize that Obama was just dog whistling to the liberals? He told us what we wanted to hear, but in actual practice, he's a fucking monster, but he's a monster with a nice face and a reassuring way of speaking. We all viscerally loathed Bush, but in actual practice, there's very little difference between these two Presidents. And, yet, because of that smiling, relaxed face, people just sigh and say the other side would be worse.

I'm no longer sure of that. I think even we liberals may have been better off with McCain. Obama just pretends to be a liberal. At least, with McCain, you knew what you were getting. With Palin on the ticket, the country made the right decision, but McCain with a competent veep might have been a lot better for the country.

He certainly couldn't have been a whole lot worse.
posted by Malor at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Instead, he wants you to know that if you criticize him -- or even question what he's done -- it's your fault

Wow, that strikes me as a pretty uncharitable reading. I don't get that from Obama's words at all. Thanks for the answer, I guess, but it seems a little like putting words in the guy's mouth.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, another item for the "no shit, Sherlock" file.

Yeah, this seems like minutiae that only further confirms what everyone already knew ... and what Greenwald (and others, as Joe Beese links) wrote a year ago. I don't think it merits a post, or else it could use a bit more substance.

The Physicians for a National Health Program does an excellent job with the issues, I think.

"As health policy, the 'public option' was worthless. But as a political tool it was priceless."

- The "public option" and the wheelbarrow parable (part 3 (part 1 is just intro))

"Here's why PPACA is an underinsurance program: Employers will see little relief and will expand their present trend of shifting more insurance and health care costs onto their employees. Individuals buying plans in the new insurance exchanges will select underinsurance products with low actuarial values (30 to 40 percent of costs must be paid by the patient) with subsidies that are inadequate to avoid financial hardship. Many will move into the Medicaid program which has more expansive coverage, but which reimburses providers at such a low rate that far too many will not be willing to accept patients under this program. With Medicaid chasing away providers, it too has become another form of underinsurance.

Thus the touted increase in insurance enrollment under PPACA will be more than offset by the explosion in underinsurance - affecting the majority of Americans."


- Single-Payer FAQ

Am I the only one not disillusioned by Obama?

Nope. I kinda like him. I did not vote for him in 2008, and he has acted as I suspected, but my expectations were so low (Clinton II) that I have been somewhat pleasantly not further disappointed than I already expected to be. 3 heartless cheers for lowered expectations.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2010


I found conservative Charles Krauthammer's take on the health care bill after it passed very interesting

Charles Krauthammer? Seriously? The man has made a career out of being wrong about everything.
posted by [citation needed] at 9:00 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I said it in the last political thread and I'll repeat it here. The time to punish the Dems is in the primaries. You want more liberal Democrats? Start finding them, encouraging them to run, and pushing for them to depose the Blue Dogs. That's what the right has been doing on their side of the aisle and they've successfully moved their party farther to the right with each election cycle since Nixon.

Regardless of which Dem wins the primary, it's counterproductive to not vote for them in the general if you are to their left. It's has nothing to do with whether the Dems "deserve" your vote as if it's some kind of gift you're giving them, it's just basic game theory. Vote progressive/green/whatever in the primary and Dem in the general.

Hell, if you really hate Obama, start a grassroots campaign to nominate Gore or Feingold or something. A primary challenge to an incumbent usually means the other party wins, but if you start early enough and the more progressive candidate gets popular enough, maybe Obama just steps aside. It probably won't happen because the voters really don't know enough or care enough about progressive values to make it happen, but this is a democracy. That's your option. If the people don't agree, there's nothing we can do.
posted by callmejay at 9:01 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Politics is the art of the possible.

God, I hate this dodge; the ghost of Otto Von Bismarck, giving every politician who just can't be arsed a pithy and above all pragmatic thing to say at $30,000 a plate fundraisers. I don't know the original Prussian, but given everything he got done, I always thought a nuance was lost in translation.

It don't think it means doing what is possible Where the hell is the art in that?

I think it means the art of making things possible.
posted by kipmanley at 9:02 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Am I the only one not disillusioned by Obama?

No. I'm not thrilled with him, particularly on civil liberties issues, but I am not disillusioned. I think he's a step in the right direction after the last eight years.

I also would have liked a public option, and I say that as someone who was considered a social liberal and fiscal moderate back in 88 when I was first old enough to vote. Now that makes me a pretty firmly liberal what with how the camps have shifted and I'm represented by people like Webb and Warner who are the new face of blue dogs.

I think the problem with Greenwald and other folks grinding their teeth about this are that they are, to me, engaging in a very simplistic single-path view of the sausage making. Talking about this "only 50 votes" thing ignores the fact that you can't get to reconciliation till you've had at least one 60 vote passage. Saying that the White House gave up the public option without even trying assumes that there was no behind-the-scenes vote counting and calculus about whether it would happen.

This stuff about a list of senators saying they supported a public option is just trash. We can't point angry fingers at Obama for saying one thing in campaigning and doing another when the time comes and then turn around and act as if those statements from senators are iron-clad guarantees. The process whereby this law was passed is filled with strong statements of support that turned into weak opposition and back again. The vote counts that are meaningful happen on the floor and, to a lesser extent, via whip counts not in front of cameras.

Maybe this law could have been better. Maybe the Obama team blinked and didn't aim as high as they could have. But they got it done after 40 years of failures by past presidents, and I'm going to pay a lot more attention to how far they did get than how far they didn't.

I'm not going to stop hollering encouragement to keep going farther, but I don't really see what good this post-facto griping is going in the face of an election filled with an opposition that wants to roll back what DID get done. I'm never going to tell people they don't have the right to be angry and disappointed and talk about what they wanted that their leaders didn't provide them. But if you think what did happen was important, good and huge - and it WAS - then I'm not sure why you'd pick the month before an election to rehash what didn't happen.
posted by phearlez at 9:04 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


it seems a little like putting words in the guy's mouth

CNN - August 2009 (one month after dealing away the PO):

The White House sought to reassure jittery supporters Monday that President Obama is not abandoning the fight for a public health insurance option. ...

"The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans, and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market," White House aide Linda Douglass said in a written statement.

"He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals."

posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we just stop telling people what to do with their vote? It's incredibly patronizing and makes it seem like you think everyone who disagrees with you is a child. Speak in I statements. "I will still vote for Democrats and here is why."

Fair point, and I apologize for my excessively harsh and condescending rhetoric. To all the disaffected progressives, I guess I'd just like to say that I imagine that the frustration you feel when you contemplate Obama's decisions, I feel when I consider yours. It's even more frustrating when I consider that our goals, our worldview, is more or less the same. I guess it's just the age old realist versus idealist battle playing out again--one of the biggest causes of infighting known to humanity. I know 'realist' and 'idealist' are buzzwords to an extent, and I wish I had better terms, since I think it's more complicated than just "naive dreamer" versus "heartless negotiator." I think both have a place in any movement or cause, just generally at different times.

An example: in the early 20th century, the two most prominent African-Americans working to better the situation of blacks in America were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Washington was a realist through and through, who believed that the time wasn't ripe for the overthrow of Jim Crow, and instead worked within the system to found Tuskegee Institute, one of the first black universities in the nation. DuBois founded the NAACP, which saw few successes in its early years. He also became a Communist, supported Stalin even into the 1950's, and started several more grand-purposed organizations, none of which amounted to much. Both men made heroic efforts on behalf of blacks; but in his lifetime, Washington's achievements probably helped the most. DuBois' efforts never really got anywhere, because the time just wasn't ripe for for revolution.

That said, if the two had been competing for a figurehead role in the civil rights struggle in the 1960's, DuBois most likely would have been the man for the job. That would not have been the time for compromises, it was the time for aggression and grand marches, "I Have a Dream" speeches and protests.

So where are we now? I just don't see any stirrings of any serious policy-change oriented movement in this country. The fact that Obama's election didn't really change the general political tone is evidence to that. And the risks of reaching too far too soon are large--I mean, they include the term 'President Palin.'

If you really want to be an idealist at this time, do whatever you can to start a true social/political revolution. Start taking serious steps towards either becoming this generation's Martin Luther King, or locating him or her and helping in whatever way possible. If you're an idealist, you have to be an active one, or else you're doing it wrong. And posting on blogs about how you won't be voting is kind of the antithesis of action.

But I still think a realistic approach is the best approach at this current point, and therefore I will be campaigning and voting for the Democrats, mainly because they aren't the Republicans.
posted by notswedish at 9:14 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Occasionally I read something that sets of a powerful urge in me to grab a torch and go and burn something down.
This was one of them.


I'm between jobs/houses/lives right now so I'm sort of crashing at this sweet bachelor pad kinda place. Last night we watched Boondock Saints and I was able to clean my rifles while watching a movie (which I never get to do when I'm with my fiancee.) Anyway, between the normal backslapping and beer toasting that invariably goes on while watching Boondock Saints, someone was like, "Damn. Wish this shit was real." And someone else said, "Yeah. But not with, you know, mobsters." And we all looked at each other and said in unison, "CEOs." It was crazy. There is a limit to how much "let them eat cake" any of us can handle. Shit will, gradually, begin to get desperate for people. If you tune in to Glenn Beck, which can be hard on the cardiovascular system, you'll probably be amazed by how much you agree with much of his rhetoric. Much of his schtick, remember, is that corporations and wall-street financiers control Washington. And when you talk to angry dems, well, we're pissed because corporations and wall-street financiers pretty much control Washington.
One of my roommates says that it'll never happen in America, we'll fall like Rome, because even though Americans are quick to fight authority, they've been doping our water with flouride and it poisons our precious bodily fluids and makes us docile. But who amongst us hasn't fantasized about moving to some Scandinavian paradise? I know I have. I wonder how much more shit we can take, collectively, as a people, before things start to go off the rails. On both the right and the left.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Am I the only one not disillusioned by Obama?

I'm not disillusioned - I had few illusions in the first place. I am a progressive Democrat who did not vote for him in 2008 and I suspect I won't vote for him in 2012.

I make a habit of distrusting charming people - sometimes to my detriment, I admit. It's not surprising at all that other young voters aren't as cynical as I am, and I feel sorry that they've had to learn caution the way we all do - by getting burned.
posted by muddgirl at 9:16 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am a progressive Democrat who did not vote for him in 2008 and I suspect I won't vote for him in 2012.

I feel compelled to point out that despite my vote for the Green Party in 2008, Mr. Obama still managed to pull out the win! It's quite shocking given the general theme I hear that a vote for a progressive candidate is a vote for Satan himself.
posted by muddgirl at 9:17 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was just daydreaming that at some point, having failed to secure constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in all 50 states, there where staunch conservatives calling Bush a 'monster with a nice face and a reassuring way of speaking' and suggesting that we would have all just been better off having elected Gore or Kerry. It's certainly one thing we could have agreed on.
posted by JohnFredra at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2010


You (the 'metafilter liberal') are just one small segment of a diverse pie, and the fact is you are the farthest left (especially on the healthcare issue), and therefore most easily marginalized, part of the party.

In July 2009, when Obama sold us out on this, support for a public option was around 70%.

That is not the "farthest left".
posted by Joe Beese at 9:19 AM on October 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think it means the art of making things possible.

That's wizardry. Politics is the art of having an ideal, and compromising, and falling far short of your ideal, and hoping you are closer to your ideal than you were previously. It always was and always will be this way.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


... I'm not sure why you'd pick the month before an election to rehash what didn't happen.

The Democrats are about to take an epic beating in that election, precisely because they failed to get results. They're eager to point fingers in our direction, we're just pointing back.
posted by gerryblog at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Politics is the art of having an ideal, and compromising, and falling far short of your ideal, and hoping you are closer to your ideal than you were previously.

No one is denying this. The argument, now as ever, is over how much Obama *needed* to compromise vs. much he actually did.
posted by gerryblog at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNN - August 2009 (one month after dealing away the PO): [etc.]

No, I know, I just don't see how any of that translates to 'Instead, he wants you to know that if you criticize him -- or even question what he's done -- it's your fault' or that Obama thinks you are a 'naive, fringe-leftist idiot.' Broken promises, saying that his critics on the left focus on the negative instead of the positive-- sure. But to go from there to feeling like Obama thinks you aren't allowed to criticize him? I don't want to turn this into a derail, so I'ma gonna stop here, but in my opinion that is a huge leap made possible only because of other opinions you must have about the guy.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2010


I really hate to say this because I don't wish for it, and I don't wish suffering on the many people who would certainly suffer significantly if this happened, but you know, maybe a period of "very very ugly indeed" is what it would take to get people to stop thinking of compassion, community, and one nanosecond of self-sacrifice as dirty words.

Problem is, by then so much damage will have been done that all the newfound progressive ideals won't be enough to unfuck things to the point where they are now. The Republican legislators will have annihilated whatever progressive checks and balances remain in the system so far with maximum prejudice, sowing salt around the ruins, egged on by the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving that are the white working class. We'll end up with honest-to-goodness serfdom in America, and merely getting back to a world of working poor a paycheck away from homelessness and medical bankruptcy will seem like an unrealisable progressive dream.
posted by acb at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Problem is, by then so much damage will have been done that all the newfound progressive ideals won't be enough to unfuck things to the point where they are now.

Didn't this kind of happen during the Great Depression? Shooting at the bank-man if he tried to come on your property? And fucking over the environment so badly that it leads to a dustbowl? And then we get another New Deal, yeah?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2010


Anyway, between the normal backslapping and beer toasting that invariably goes on while watching Boondock Saints, someone was like, "Damn. Wish this shit was real." And someone else said, "Yeah. But not with, you know, mobsters." And we all looked at each other and said in unison, "CEOs."

That's pretty terrifying, yo.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2010


If you tune in to Glenn Beck, which can be hard on the cardiovascular system, you'll probably be amazed by how much you agree with much of his rhetoric. Much of his schtick, remember, is that corporations and wall-street financiers control Washington.

That is the depressing thing about Glenn Beck. He uses lies and misdirection to redirect the perfectly-valid anger that's everywhere into a direction that, ultimately, prevents change or even makes things worse. When the change fails to happen it'll add just that much more to the jadedness and bitterness of the American electorate.
posted by JHarris at 9:31 AM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I still don't understand why it's as damning as you seem to think it is.

You have to couple it with the comments of the supposed loose cannons.

Gibbs saying the "professional left" "ought to be drug-tested."
Biden saying the base are "whiners."
Rahm Emanuel saying some liberals are "fucking retarded."

Then Obama makes the statesmanlike, non-damning statement. Voila! You got your White House posture re: the liberal wing.

You also get your enthusiasm gap. Damn straight you do.
posted by Trochanter at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


>..but what then would you say progressives should do to get party leaders to pay attention to their agenda?

I was going to write "make deals". Support him on some issues in return for his support on other issues. But I like the idea of pushing more liberal/progressive Democrat members at the primary level. That'll take longer, but it's the sort of thing Howard Dean was pushing for with the 50 state plan. Now the Rahm, who didn't like or support that plan, is out of the administration, perhaps we can return to that.

How much more proof do you need that that man shouldn't be anywhere near that office?

John McCain and Sarah Palin. Them or Obama/Biden, those were the options. To my mind, there is no question which duo would have been worse for the country.
posted by nomadicink at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Truman couldn't do it, LBJ couldn't do it, Nixon couldn't do it, Clinton couldn't do it.

Obama did it.

If he failed to be dinner-table clear about what deals he'd strike and wouldn't strike, what components he'd support or not support, it's because he wasn't at a dinner table. He was in a war. If all you see ther is dishonesty or conspiracy, you don't know enough about politics to govern a paper bag.

Do you Beeses really think that ARRA doesn't get us much closer to single payer (screw "public option")?

I think I'll see it in my lifetime. If ARRA had failed, I'd never have seen it in my lifetime.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 9:41 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pragmatism?!?

That's the final straw.
posted by timdicator at 9:41 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Support him on some issues in return for his support on other issues.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

It's like everyone was hit in the head last month and we completely forgot what happened 2 fucking years ago.
posted by muddgirl at 9:41 AM on October 6, 2010


Here's what bothers me - even after 30 years of the steady drift to the right of the political spectrum in the U.S., more government involvement in heath care is still more popular than less involvement by two-to-one. The AP poll is not the first one of its kind that I've seen, and I've seen similar polls on other issues near and dear to the "professional left". This deep frustration felt by majorities of Americans can be addressed, and not only by Fox News and Glenn Beck. But the leadership of the Democratic Party simply doesn't want to address it. It prefers to run after a center being dragged ever-further to the right.

This is just another depressing example. And it's even more depressing in that Tom Daschle doesn't seem to have felt the need to hide it. That tells me a lot, too, about the culture that's making life-and-death decisions for the American people.

The Democratic Party's leadership seems to still be pursuing its 30-year quest to abandon forever its heritage of the New Deal and the Great Society for some kind of shiny cyberfuture in which its new bases of support will be personified by Silicon Valley and Greenwich Village rather than Toledo, Ohio and Newark, New Jersey. And that argument made a small degree of strategic sense once upon a time - wasn't San Jose growing and Toledo shrinking? The problem is, of course, than in an ever-more-unequal America, the people getting kicked down the pyramid inevitably outnumber those who are at or near the top. And, eventually, America starts looking a lot more like Toledo than San Jose. And all the while America's thought leaders tell us that we need to grow up, get real, take salary cuts, work longer hours, retire later, abandon paid vacations, and otherwise tell us to do things that they will never, ever do themselves.

If that's "growing up", I prefer the immaturity of believing that this isn't inevitable, thank you very much.
posted by jhandey at 9:44 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


But to go from there to feeling like Obama thinks you aren't allowed to criticize him?

Maybe it was this:

The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

Not "are justifiably disappointed with my inability to fulfill my repeated campaign promises". But "are sitting on their hands complaining".

Perhaps he means that we can criticize all we want as long as we vote for his party in the end anyway. But if we're going to vote for his party no matter what, he has no reason to care about those criticisms.

Meaning he will have played you for a sucker again.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:44 AM on October 6, 2010


I just don't think that Congress ever would have passed a public option, even if Obama had fought for it. This, to me, seems like the kind of difficult compromise that politicians have to make to get shit done in real life. Not that I'm not unhappy about it, but it is what it is. I think that, as narrowly as HCR ended up passing, if Obama had wasted political capital trying to achieve even more, it might not have happened at all.

Also, Tom Daschle did a spectacular job of bending over backwards for Bush during the push for the Iraq invasion, so fuck him right in the ear.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:48 AM on October 6, 2010


Again, I think you're interpreting the guy's words in a way that I don't really get. Which is fine; you may well be right and I may well be wrong. But if you're basing your reading of what Obama said at a fundraising dinner on a reading of the guy's intentions culled from several sources and publications over a longer period of time, then just posting the thing he said at the fundraising dinner isn't the rhetorical slam-dunk you're treating it as, which is why it was confusing me that you were doing that. I better understand your feelings on it, so thank you. I still disagree, but I wasn't asking to be persuaded, so again, thank you.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:50 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems like serious people on this thread think unserious people should accept that politics is all about slimy back room deals and that unserious people will never get what they want and you should vote for the lesser of two evils even if they don't represent your political outlook, morals, or way of life.

I guess for myself I'll stick with my naive unserious response and vote for who I think will best represent me (democracy is so unserious). I'm a liberal, not a progressive. The democratic party is progressive so they don't represent me. As a result I won't be voting for them. The insults and threats coming from leaders of the party and party members make it clear that I'm not part of the club.
posted by dibblda at 9:51 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


From a practical standpoint I'm part of the attack them in the primaries, support them in the general elections school of thought.

But here's the thing, I don't matter. Us political wonk types bitching here and elsewhere will vote Democrat in the next election, and the next, and the next, because we do recognize that the alternative is worse.

But the non-wonks aren't going to be swayed by phantoms of President Palin, and they're the people we need.

The first time voters who got Obama elected in 2008 didn't vote for him because they wanted someone marginally better than Bush. They voted because they wanted Hope and Change. And then Obama sold them out, and Rahm Emanuel called them fucking retards, and they will stay home in future elections because they didn't vote for the lesser evil, they voted for Hope and Change and now they feel like suckers for believing Obama when he made his pretty speeches.

I'm voting and I'm voting Democrat [1], but that's because I'm a political geek. And I encourage my friends to vote, though I'll admit to being pretty damn demoralized by the constant "fuck you hippie" rhetoric coming from the Democrats.

But the first time voters? The ones who bought the hype? The ones who dared to discard cynicism and dared to believe in Hope and Change? They're done, odds are that they will never vote again and trying to scare them with Sarah Palin won't work. They voted because the believed and now they feel like suckers for believing, and no one wants to feel like a sucker.

Let me make an analogy here. I recently discovered Kobo, its the ebook service from Borders and the only thing that really makes it stand out is the prices. For all but the newer books Kobo charges a bit less than the price of a paperback. That is a radical departure from the Amazon and B&N policy of offering us a giant fuck you by charging more than the paperback price for a book that costs between 15% and 20% less to produce than a paperback.

Here's the thing about Kobo. It sucks. It is a terrible ebook format and reader. It takes, no exaggeration, up to 60 seconds from the time I launch the app on my iPhone until the time I can start reading. It appears to cache only one chapter of a book at a time so that it requires a constant net connection, plus yet more delays, when moving from one chapter to the next. Of all the ebook reader software I have tried to date it is not merely the worst, but by far the worst.

And I have bought more ebooks for Kobo than I have for any other reader. Because buying from Amazon, or B&N, or any place that charges me more than I'd pay for a paperback makes me feel like a sucker.

I deliberately use the worst ebook reader I know exists because it doesn't make me feel ashamed to buy a book.

Obama's actions have made many of those first time voters who dared to set aside their cynicism and really believe a politician feel like suckers. They're ashamed of themselves for not being cynical enough to dismiss Hope and Change as mere empty rhetoric.

Telling me to clap harder won't change that. People aren't stupid, they know when they've been suckered, and Obama suckered them and then he and his staff laughed at them for being so stupid, so naive, as to believe in Hope and Change. It isn't me, the political wonk who will vote for the Democrats no matter what, who is going to wind up costing the Democrats control this election, and Obama his second term next election. It isn't even Joe Bessie who claims he won't vote for the Democrats this time around. Telling us to clap harder won't solve the problem.

The problem is that the young first time voters who won Obama the 2008 election feel like suckers, and that's entirely the fault of Obama and his employees.

[1] And I live in the Texas panhandle so that will mean exactly jack shit.
posted by sotonohito at 9:55 AM on October 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


Here's How Greenwald emphasizes it when quoting Volsky (who quotes Daschle):
I asked Daschle if the White House had taken the option off the table in July 2009 and if all future efforts to resuscitate the provision were destined to fail:

DASCHLE: I don’t think it was taken off the table completely. It was taken off the table as a result of the understanding that people had with the hospital association, with the insurance (AHIP), and others. I mean I think that part of the whole effort was based on a premise. That premise was, you had to have the stakeholders in the room and at the table. Lessons learned in past efforts is that without the stakeholders' active support rather than active opposition, it’s almost impossible to get this job done. They wanted to keep those stakeholders in the room and this was the price some thought they had to pay.
Here's where I would have placed the emphasis, changing the meaning almost entirely:
I asked Daschle if the White House had taken the option off the table in July 2009 and if all future efforts to resuscitate the provision were destined to fail:

DASCHLE: I don’t think it was taken off the table completely. It was taken off the table as a result of the understanding that people had with the hospital association, with the insurance (AHIP), and others. I mean I think that part of the whole effort was based on a premise. That premise was, you had to have the stakeholders in the room and at the table. Lessons learned in past efforts is that without the stakeholders' active support rather than active opposition, it’s almost impossible to get this job done. They wanted to keep those stakeholders in the room and this was the price some thought they had to pay.
There's not the slightest suggestion in any of Daschle's remarks or in any other source I've seen that Obama personally cut a deal with the health industry to take the public option off the table. It may simply have been clear that the Dem congressional leadership wanted it that way before agreeing to go along and support the bill.

People are focusing far too much on this issue. The real problem with the Health Care Reform is the fact that it left it to the states to set up and administer the insurance exchanges. That should have been done at the federal level. One of the main problems with the industry now is that there's no consistency in service or regulatory standards across states, and that insurers enjoy powerful regional monopolies they frequently abuse.

But as for this, at no point has it been made clear that: A) President Obama personally exerted maniacal control over the minutest detail every aspect of the complex negotiations going on among the many various parties who in our democratic system had every right to be involved in negotiating with lawmakers during the health care reform process, or that B) President Obama, and not any one of the many other legally entitled parties actually took part in these negotiations Greenwald loves to characterize in terms like "Obama's secret deal" to curry favor with his paymasters at the Cato Institute.

This lifelong Green Party member still thinks you're being taken for a ride by this Greenwald fellow.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:58 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I guess, the point you're missing, Joe, is that in his viewpoint some progress is being made. Because it's not super 100% everything you ever wanted progress, you cry that he is evil and playing everyone for a sucker.

Why do the strongest ideologues always carry the seeming temperament of a five year old? "I DIDN'T GET MY PONY, THAT IS A BAD BAD MAN!" It's one thing to cry cynicism and say the system is corrupt, but what actual positive alternative are you proposing to all of this?
posted by cavalier at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2010


I'd never vote for her, but cynically, I do have to observe that she might be less dangerous than Obama, because she's an idiot.

If Palin became president, do you really think she'd be making the decisions? Idiots are controllable. It's the whole reason they put Bush up for election, everyone knows Cheney was pulling the strings.
posted by JHarris at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2010


In July 2009, when Obama sold us out on this, support for a public option was around 70%.

That is not the "farthest left".


Ahh yes, because answering "yes" to a phone poll is equivalent to what's going on now. I'm sorry, but one poll, or even a bunch of polls, are weak evidence, since they fail to distinguish between strength of support. 'Support' is a continuum, not a yes-no. The 'farthest left' will have the strongest negative reaction to the policy's failure. Short of physical violence against Democratic politicians, I think your reaction qualifies.
posted by notswedish at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2010


I just don't think that Congress ever would have passed a public option, even if Obama had fought for it. This, to me, seems like the kind of difficult compromise that politicians have to make to get shit done in real life. Not that I'm not unhappy about it, but it is what it is. I think that, as narrowly as HCR ended up passing, if Obama had wasted political capital trying to achieve even more, it might not have happened at all.

You might be right. I'm happy that something got passed, even if it wasn't what I would have liked. I really am.

But I wish they wouldn't have rolled over so quickly, and, I fear, eagerly. August 2009 was barely 9 months after Obama's "historic" election. If not then, when? When the Democrats had 90 seats in the Senate? 100? What's the threshold? It doesn't take a genius to predict that the incumbent party will lose seats in the midterm elections, so why not take greater advantage of that, instead of spending so much energy on rolling over at every single opportunity (Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, etc.)?

Yeah, Obama had to deal with probably the most significant economic crisis since the Great Depression, but I can't help but think that Democrats from other eras could have gotten a lot more done even with Republican opposition. I think a lot more was possible than what happened, and I keep coming to the conclusion that the fundamental truth was that it just wasn't wanted by the party leadership - not with 58 votes, not with 60, and not with 100.
posted by jhandey at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Democrats are about to take an epic beating in that election, precisely because they failed to get results.

More one-track thinking.

Are there people who would have been enthusiastic who would have showed up if they'd gotten everything they wanted and a pony besides? Maybe, though I am personally unconvinced at this time in my life that this is how political motivation actually works. Being on the bottom seems to motivate people at least 2-to-1 more than momentum of success.

But if we spot you that one you still are only taking about a section of the population who would have voted for a democrat choosing to stay home. They're not voting for the republican instead - we can agree on that, right?

So you're assigning the cause of the beating to the couple of percent which would have turned the tide. But to blame a 45 to 49 loss on the additional folks who chose not to show up rather than those in the 49% who did is silly. It also ignores what number in the 45% might have been swapped - democrats are not some monolithic group (obviously from here) who are going to vote in lockstep. Blue dogs exist because some people want them and there are folks who support them who AREN'T going to support that yellow dog.

The top reason dems are going to take a beating - and by the way, Nate Silver's numbers don't seem to support an "epic" loss - is the same problem that impacts any winning team: the opposition may not love their person but they love hir more than they love losing. That's responsible for a much larger section of the electorate in any close race than this percentage of folks who may not show up because they didn't get as much health care reform as they want.

And really, failed to get results? What is in the health care reform law is HUGE. HUGE. I take far greater issue with democrats for failing to run on what IS in it than I do this dopey defensiveness in response to complaints that it didn't go far enough.

I am stupified as to why the 22 to 26 crowd isn't seeing a constant stream of advertising taking credit for their being able to be on their parent's insurance now. There should be ads on every jobs site taking credit for that, reassuring them that as they struggle in a slow economy they have a safety net that the republicans would like to take away.
posted by phearlez at 10:03 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do the strongest ideologues always carry the seeming temperament of a five year old? "I DIDN'T GET MY PONY, THAT IS A BAD BAD MAN!"

Look, I disagree with Joe Beese, but this is an unfair characterization that does not respond to any of his criticisms. Disagree with a level head and honest language or you're just making noise.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


malor: Until his term, the continued loss of civil liberties, the War on Terror, and the slide into insolvency weren't guaranteed. We could still have turned back from the brink. But he's forced us onto those paths, and all but guaranteed the destruction of the Republic.

Assuming that what you say is true, how is it possible that McCain (or any one person, for that matter) would have turned things back from the brink in the way that you imply? And how is it possible that McCain could not have been a worse "monster" than Obama? Judging from the way McCain ran his primary campaign, there's all kinds of ways he could have been worse than Obama.
posted by blucevalo at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2010


The "public option" was just a bullshit distraction from single payer.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:24 AM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


In July 2009, when Obama sold us out on this, support for a public option was around 70%.

More people liked the public option than didn't, that's true. But you can't measure these things along only one axis. Equally important is whether the 70% care about that issue compared to the 30%, and I'd conjecture that they didn't... and by a sizable margin.

Another axis is volatility of that issue, how easy it would be to change public opinion in one direction or the other. We saw the answer to that one; the media was complicit in "driving the debate" even if that meant scaring up some ratings covering the "controversy" over death panels, socialism, the length of the bill, whatever, and it worked. There's nothing magical about the public option that would've exempted it from that circus, and so a bad situation would be worse if it hadn't been abandoned.

You really can't look at polls as if they're the only thing that matter to legislation.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2010


I am stupified as to why the 22 to 26 crowd isn't seeing a constant stream of advertising taking credit for their being able to be on their parent's insurance now.

Maybe because a lot of parents don't have insurance?

The real problem with the Health Care Reform is the fact that it left it to the states to set up and administer the insurance exchanges.

Oh, c'mon. The real problem is underinsurance and the increase in the cost of premiums.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess, the point you're missing, Joe, is that in his viewpoint some progress is being made. Because it's not super 100% everything you ever wanted progress, you cry that he is evil and playing everyone for a sucker.

The President's apologists keep pointing to the health care bill as "incremental progress".

It is not.

Remember Liz Fowler? The former WellPoint VP whom William Ockham noted was the literal author of the health care reform bill?

I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to learn that WellPoint’s former VP will be in charge of consumer issues and oversight as our country implements the WellPoint/Liz Fowler health insurance bill. ...

This is the kind of “oversight” that resulted in the BP disaster. ...

It’s a nice trick: send your VP to write a law mandating that the middle class buy shitty products like yours, then watch that VP move into the executive branch to “oversee” the implementation of the law.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how you reconcile this:

I guess for myself I'll stick with my naive unserious response and vote for who I think will best represent me (democracy is so unserious).

with this:

I'm a liberal, not a progressive. The democratic party is progressive so they don't represent me. As a result I won't be voting for them. The insults and threats coming from leaders of the party and party members make it clear that I'm not part of the club.

Are you going to vote for who will best represent you or not? Because if you're a liberal I don't see how the alternative is going to be more in line with your interests.

I guess you can say you will vote for who WOULD best represent you, were they able to get the gig, but callmejay is right about this: the time for pie-in-the-sky efforts is the primary.

In the general you've got a finite selection of folks who might possibly win. If you're really liberal then you also have someone who might win who, with that position, will take actions you will almost certainly not like. It is the ultimate perfection is the enemy of the good scenario.

I guess you might really believe that a democratic party out of power will move leftward. I respect that, though I believe quite firmly that it's not true and that the evidence doesn't support it. I think if you want a farther left party you've got a better chance of making that happen with them in power if for no other reason than that a seated democrat is making choices all the time that are demonstrable and provable which you can then praise or condemn.

One who lost can tell you anything since they can't do a groddamned thing.

I know what I wish we had, and this ain't it. But if the two actual choices are shit and shittier then I'm gonna choose shit - because one of them IS going to be in my life for 2/4/6 years.
posted by phearlez at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "public option" was just a bullshit distraction from single payer.

Exactly. A "public option" is so vague as to defy any sort of definition of success. A "single-payer system" is much more specific (and rational).

Did we get a "public option?" We still have Medicaid. That's sorta like a "public option." In some states, it works like government-sponsored insurance (with co-pays and everything.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2010


Tangentially: More on Greenwald's paymasters over at the Cato Institute: now they're purse-strings are calling for heads at the White House because someone publicly acknowledged the fact that the Koch brother's who set up Cato exploit loopholes to avoid paying their full tax burdens (guess they couldn't figure out a way to get back at the people who blabbed about their status as the nation's biggest polluters).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The President's apologists keep pointing to the health care bill as "incremental progress".

It is not.


I strongly disagree. Vehemently.

The law includes a cast-iron requirement that 85% of premiums be spent on care. Huge.

It's why the WSJ writes a gloom and doom article saying that because of that McDonalds may discontinue a plan they offer to employees that collects $728 a year and has a maximum payout of $2,000 - a scenario which even the most numerically challenged can recognize means that this is a plan that's far more weighted to being a money-maker for McDs or the insurance company.

The law removes lifetime payout limits. Huge.

People aren't going to pay into a plan for twenty years and then find themselves completely high and dry when a massive tragedy hits.

The law mandates that you have insurance, thereby paying into the pool. Huge.

This is what single-payer would have done: gotten everyone into the game to help float the whole system but this does it via a mandate rather than taxes. The basic principle is the same though: we have GOT to get everyone invested in this at every level to help bend the price curve.

Would it be better if we didn't line some company's pockets along the way of getting everyone into the game? Yeah, I think so, though if you're a business-does-everything-better type maybe you see a reason to support this law this way that you wouldn't have seen if it was via taxation. That's part of that sausage-making that we don't like to talk about though, so we'll let it go and stick with the question of "is this incremental change?"

The law prevents insurance companies from keeping out kids who might have been born with an expensive problem. Huge. The law provides an opportunity for graduating college students to keep over existing coverage a little longer. Huge.

Yeah, my perspective on that may be colored by remembering when I turned 21 with some college still to complete. The scramble to find affordable catastrophic care coverage in 91 looks laughable to me now in retrospect - the costs are SO much worse now.

Oh, catastropic care coverage? Gone. The law now sets a baseline for what has to be covered. And since the plan has to spend 85% of the premiums on care it can't just flat-out soak the people buying it. Huge.

But hey, they're gonna put a person you don't like in a job. Clearly the whole thing must be shit.

You can be annoyed it doesn't go as far as it should. I am. But that's why you push for more.

You can be concerned that the person being put in oversight won't be as rigorous as you want. I am. But that's one person now in charge of administering a law that will continue after they're gone.

But to say this isn't incremental change? You're plain and simple flat out wrong. It is.

It's good. It could be better. Which means we keep going. That doesn't make me an apologist. It means I'm not blind to good because it's not great. And when you malign all those things we did get because it didn't include putting Fowler out on her ear and make her forever unemployable you really don't do a great job of making the president sound unreasonable when he says you're a glass-half-empty person.
posted by phearlez at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


I know what I wish we had, and this ain't it. But if the two actual choices are shit and shittier then I'm gonna choose shit - because one of them IS going to be in my life for 2/4/6 years.

This. I get that yinz are upset with Obama but do you have an alternative? And don't say 3rd party, that hasn't worked in a 150 years and isn't going to work now. What's the plan for getting better politicians in office? I've voted in seven presidential elections and Obama is the best that I've voted for in almost thirty years except for maybe Gore. Was there anyone in the 2008 primaries that would be doing a better job than he's doing if they'd been elected?
posted by octothorpe at 10:47 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The law includes... The law removes... The law mandates ...

Said law to be enforced by the industry hack who literally wrote the bill herself.

Very reassuring.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:50 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Phearlez

There are parties to the left of the centrist democratic party, so I do have options. Again why would I vote for members of a party who do not represent me. The Republicans don't represent my interests and I don't vote for them either. How is this any different.

If there were 10 green party senators, the spineless democrats would have had to compromise to the left. Maybe the northeast and california can pick up a few.
posted by dibblda at 10:50 AM on October 6, 2010


Also remember I said I was a liberal. The democrats dropped the term because being a liberal had negative connotations apparently and republicans were using the term as an insult. The democrats are a progressive party.
posted by dibblda at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2010


The anti ARRA is just PUMA II where a bunch of spoiled pretend democrats get outraged over a bunch of bullshit. If you pretend liberals really want to help stop the circular firing squad and help get people fired up about things like the Roberts Court handing over power to corporations to by elections without any checks at all, or the fact that the US chamber of Commerce is buying election ads for candidates with money from the state run corporations in China. You string Obama up lynch mob mentality is distracting the electorate from causes that would actually move the needle to the left.
posted by humanfont at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 'farthest left' will have the strongest negative reaction to the policy's failure.

It's so adorable when people say "far left" and mean "Democrats".
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


phearlz, it's not incremental change because, and this is the same inane mistake every stupid dipshit who thinks that socialism is just a more extreme version of liberalism makes, socialized medicine is not a more extreme version of managed care. You don't take a step to the left over the border from liberalism to socialism. You don't take a step further along the trail of healthcare and find yourself crossing the border between managed care and socialized medicine. In both cases we are talking about completely different ways of structuring things, be it the economy or the health care plan, and not moving along some inane, simple-minded continuum.

Incremental change implies moving along a road that runs from point A to point B- with every motion, you move yourself closer to or further away from your destination. The problem is that the road from unregulated managed care to highly regulated managed care runs parallel to the road that goes between shitty socialized medicine and good socialized medicine. Socialized medicine is not on the first road, out beyond highly regulated managed care somewhere- it is an entirely different place with a radically different structure, and the idea that by tweaking managed care regulations, we're making incremental change toward socialized medicine is every bit as stupid as the idea that if you just sit and tweak the graphics settings in Quake 3 long enough, you'll find yourself playing Fallout eventually.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also remember I said I was a liberal. The democrats dropped the term because being a liberal had negative connotations apparently and republicans were using the term as an insult. The democrats are a progressive party.

See, I don't understand this logic. I call myself a progressive because I feel I am to the left of the liberal party option. AKA, the Democratic party.

I know that liberal sometimes has a negative connotation, but that doesn't make Obama a progressive. I think that Clinton calls herself a progressive, but her views are currently to the left of the Democratic party.
posted by muddgirl at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2010


The problem with the public option is that it's logically inconsistent. How would it be cheaper than a nonprofit health insurance option? Remember, it isn't supposed to get any government subsidy. Lots of commentators pointed this out at the time, but I am a little surprised to see Daschle saying explicitly that it was just a bargaining chip.

I agree that single payer would have a lot of advantages over the current hodgepodge, but that's not what the public option was about. And getting the relatively modest current health care reform bill to actually take effect without being repealed by the other side is going to be a nightmare.
posted by miyabo at 11:24 AM on October 6, 2010


The anti ARRA is just PUMA II where a bunch of spoiled pretend democrats get outraged over a bunch of bullshit. ... You string Obama up lynch mob mentality is distracting the electorate from causes that would actually move the needle to the left.

If you think that objections to being forced to pay a government-mandated percentage of one's income directly to anti-trust exempt, for-profit corporations - under penalty of a law written by and enforced by a stoolie for those corporations - is "bullshit", that's your privilege.

But your insinuation that I am voicing those objections out of racism is pretty fucking low.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


the Roberts Court handing over power to corporations to by elections without any checks at all, or the fact that the US chamber of Commerce is buying election ads for candidates with money from the state run corporations in China.

Sounds great. Those are hugely important issues. I'd also think it would be understandable if the Democratic Party's leadership would say that the Chamber of Commerce should "grow up" or "_____ the Roberts court", to paraphrase Rahm Emanuel's feelings about the United Auto Workers (which I'm sure will help him greatly in his quest to become the next mayor of Chicago). I'd think that Obama would have fired up the old email lists from 2008 with the same kind of energy we saw back then to fight all of this, instead of repeated deliberate leaking of insults directed at the party's base, right?

I think there's definitely an enthusiasm gap - it's the gap between the passion of the Democratic Party's leadership for hippie punching and the passion of the leadership for getting its people fired up about these extremely important issues.
posted by jhandey at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


a nonprofit health insurance option

Sounds good to me. I wonder who was fighting against a non-profit option...
posted by muddgirl at 11:27 AM on October 6, 2010


The law includes... The law removes... The law mandates ...

Said law to be enforced by the industry hack who literally wrote the bill herself.

Very reassuring.


You're sticking with "just give up" then, I see. Sorry you don't have everything you want. But it IS incremental progress. It's a better system than what was in place before. If you're worried it won't be implemented well, okay - fair game.

But as I said and you deleted, that's one person in a job who won't be in it forever. It's a person who can be fired and replaced if they're not going as good a job as they should. The solution to that isn't to throw up our hands and abandon any joy at progress, it's to keep watching and keep pushing.

Maybe it's not progress towards socialized medicine like you'd want, Pope Guilty, but it's an improvement within the system we have now. You're free to say that if it doesn't advance in that direction then it's worthless. I disagree.

Medicare is different than when it was passed. So is social security. Neither started getting better till they got started.
posted by phearlez at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2010


Maybe it's not progress towards socialized medicine like you'd want, Pope Guilty, but it's an improvement within the system we have now. You're free to say that if it doesn't advance in that direction then it's worthless. I disagree.

There are elements which, if isolated from the rest, would be improvements. They are not worth some of the more noxious elements of the bill, notably the purchase mandate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Liz Fowler is] a person who can be fired and replaced if they're not going as good a job as they should.

This is what absolutely baffles me.

You continue to operate on the assumption that the government is acting in good faith. When there are mountains of evidence that the government has done nothing but act in bad faith from the very beginning.

Who exactly is going to fire Liz Fowler when - contrary to what anyone could possibly expect! - she fails to protect citizens from the rapacity of her old buddies in the health insurance industry? The President who appointed that industry hack in the first place? The one who lied to your face for months, if not years, about the policy outcome he wanted? The one who is now telling you to just shut up already and keep his people in power?

By the way: How are those improvements to NAFTA coming along?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:44 AM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


DASCHLE: I don’t think it was taken off the table completely. It was taken off the table as a result of the understanding that people had with the hospital association, with the insurance (AHIP), and others. I mean I think that part of the whole effort was based on a premise. That premise was, you had to have the stakeholders in the room and at the table. Lessons learned in past efforts is that without the stakeholders' active support rather than active opposition, it’s almost impossible to get this job done. They wanted to keep those stakeholders in the room and this was the price some thought they had to pay. Now, it's debatable about whether all of these assertions and promises are accurate, but that was the calculation. I think there is probably a good deal of truth to it. You look at past efforts and the doctors and the hospitals, and the insurance companies all opposed health care reform. This time, in various degrees of enthusiasm, they supported it. And if I had to point out some of the key differences between then and now, it would be the most important examples of the difference.
Conclusion #1: Obama and Senate Democrats took the public option off the table because they secretly hated it and/or delight in lying to progressives and hippies.

Conclusion #2: Obama and Senate Democrats calculated that the public option would have significantly increased opposition to HCR, particularly for the level of policy benefit it might present beyond the rest of the reform.

It's a good Rorschach test, but not good political journalism.

Interestingly, Greenwald seems to think that Daschle's later statement contradicts this earlier one I'm quoting. This relies entirely on the assumption that this happened during the later hammering out of the legislative process, and not earlier in private discussion, which is to say, it's no better than a guess from the information Greenwald seems to have actually presented.
posted by weston at 11:44 AM on October 6, 2010


And getting the relatively modest current health care reform bill to actually take effect without being repealed by the other side is going to be a nightmare.

What? Parts of the law are already in effect. Other parts are down the line, but in order to get repealed at least one of the following things would have to happen:
  1. The republicans not only take both houses, but they take them with veto-proof majorities. Not a snowball's chance in hell, not even by the worst predictions for November.
  2. The republicans take both houses, and the presidency in 2012. By that point several of the really juicy tenets of the law are already in place, and for all their bluster I don't think the republicans are going to be itching to reinstate the practice of rescission or end coverage for college grads.
  3. The law becomes even more wildly unpopular, to the point where even democrats think repeal is politically worthwhile (see also: snowball's chance).
  4. The law is completely invalidated by the Supreme Court. I'm genuinely scared of something like this -- the argument can at least be made that the individual mandate doesn't fall under the interstate commerce umbrella, and this bench seems eager to latch onto the flimsiest of pretenses to decide things according to the GOP wishlist. However, it's unlikely the entire law would be invalidated, though the individual mandate being struck down would be a big hit to any measure of cost control that might be effected by the reform.
None of this seems like a nightmare waiting to happen, even in the worst case.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:48 AM on October 6, 2010


And don't say 3rd party, that hasn't worked in a 150 years and isn't going to work now.

A black man hadn't been elected U.S. president in the 219 years before Mr. Obama. Anything can happen.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:04 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"No black man can be elected president" doesn't have a mathematical principle effecting it.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:07 PM on October 6, 2010


Can we just stop telling people what to do with their vote? It's incredibly patronizing and makes it seem like you think everyone who disagrees with you is a child. Speak in I statements. "I will still vote for Democrats and here is why."

This.

As someone whose first opportunity to vote came in 1972, I have watched both parties move further to the right and farther away from the people. Everything I have read upthread confirms my belief that corporations run America; of course, I had those same feelings in 1972, but while the players have changed the tune they call is the same or similar.

But I will vote Democratic Party with few if any exceptions this November. The alternatives in my state and national elections are just too stark for me to a) sit out or, b) vote in protest for a 3rd party.

Now, I don't think anything but a fatal heart attack will keep John Dingell from being reelected my representative in Congress, and I'm not sure even that would keep him from getting elected. But I will not be any part of Rob Steele's plan for Congress, and frankly, MIchigan gets hind seat on a lot of things in DC, so having Dingell at or near the top of the food chain suits me just fine.

In the governor's race, Virg Bernero, a career Labor politician in the Democratic party, faces an uphill battle against Rick Snyder, one of the architects of Gateway Computer's brilliant strategy to spend itself into oblivion to sell itself to Taiwanese investors. Frankly, I don't think that Snyder will do much worse or better than Bernero in office. But Michigan stands to lose 2 or more seats in the House. I saw what the Republicans did to South East Michigan when they melded two strong Democratic seats into one district, and strengthened the neighboring district to favor an eternal Republican seat. The Obama coattails actually got a Democrat elected into that seat, but I don't think he has much chance.

Just northeast of us, there's a Republican (Thad McCotter) who voted against EVERY bill the Democrats put up in Congress, and then tells his constituents that he brought stimulus money into his district.

My father voted Democratic in almost every election I can remember except Nixon V Kennedy (although he was married to a Catholic, he could not believe that a Catholic would defy the Pope if it came right down to it) and Nixon V Humphrey (he said later that when Nixon claimed to have the solution to Vietnam in his pocket, he believed him, and he didn't think that HHH had an original thought in his life). He loathed the machine politics of Chicago, but he also felt that Republicans cared more about property not people.

His family origins were socialist, with strong ties to Eugene Debs. We both went to hear Gene McCarthy and others debate in Chicago in the primary season in 1968, and that was when I understood that while it is a fine thing to be a socialist, the Socialist Party often has people who are fanatically devoted to Their One Issue to the exclusion of everything else that is going on. The SWP candidate that was there was Andrew Pulley. He was so confrontationally rabid about Vietnam that he sucked all of the air out of the room. The fact that he was (at 20) too young constitutionally to serve seemed to make no difference to him.

Should we, the people, been more anti-Vietnam War? Of course, and most of us in that room were protesters, marchers, picketers. I learned over time--and someone offered this upthread--that politics is the art of the practical, and of course, that all politics are local.

So, I will vote November 2, and I will vote Democratic.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:08 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Joe, Liz Fower has made her career out of improving access to health care. She worked in congress, public foundations and for a corporation which means she has some actual experience dealing with the industry in the real world. Your attack doesn't stand up and is simply another attempt to disillusion liberals with the real gains we've made over the last two years. Every time we suffer the tiniest setback you right wing fakers stand up with your COINTELPRO tactics to disrupt an divide us. You almost had me believing you were a real liberal until you mentioned government touching your sacred hard earned income. Dead giveaway you're a Republican. Are you Joe Beese or Joe the Plumber, or perhaps Glenn Beck has a sock puppet.
posted by humanfont at 12:09 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which, before you respond, doesn't mean it's impossible. Just that you're cutting against the grain trying to do it that way.

As I've said before, any third party which doesn't have voting system reform first on their to-do list is not to be taken seriously.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:10 PM on October 6, 2010


As I've said before, any third party which doesn't have voting system reform first on their to-do list is not to be taken seriously.

Why does it have to be first? I mean, it seems like a chicken and egg scenario ... don't the third parties need to get elected first before they can reform the voting system?

It seems like they need a good platform to get elected in the current system, to which I would guess you respond that it's impossible for them to get elected in the current system. Thus, no chicken, no egg. I lose.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:22 PM on October 6, 2010


(sorry, I now see "to-do list" and not "platform" in your comment ... so, which political parties have reform of the voting system at the top of their "to-do list"? I think it's pretty high up on the priorities for P&F. Are there any other (U.S.) parties that are more committed to voting-system reform?)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2010


Joe, Liz Fower has made her career out of improving access to health care.

She played a key role in the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA).

By the design of the program, the federal government is not permitted to negotiate prices of drugs with the drug companies, as federal agencies do in other programs.

A "fierce advocate" indeed.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2010


Also, you're basically saying that Ralph Nader is the best third-party candidate.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:28 PM on October 6, 2010


humanfront: You almost had me believing you were a real liberal

Yes, lord knows, all liberals have to march in lockstep. Obviously, he's a LINO, amirite?

This kind of team-based thinking is destroying us. You're no better than the Republicans. It's the ideas that matter, not whether the person professing them happens to belong to the right clubs or wear the right clothes.

You can be liberal and still believe that money you've earned is yours.
posted by Malor at 12:37 PM on October 6, 2010


Can't the Republicans not fund the act? And then shut down the government a la the 90s?

Or is all of that talk bluster?
posted by wittgenstein at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2010


mrgrimm, it has to be first because if a third party managed the ludicrously challenging feat of usurping one of the existing parties, it would no longer be in their interest to reform the voting system. If it's anything but the top priority, it's never going to be a priority at all.

Neither P&F nor Nader seems to put IRV at the top of the list. I'll also clarify that prioritizing voting reform is a necessary, but not sufficient criterion for me to take a third party seriously. There's no way the U.S. is putting a self-described Socialist party like P&F into power to enact voting reform. Also, P&F needs a better logo designer. Red chains on a black background? I'm sure the metaphor they see is breaking the chains, but the imagery skews the complete opposite way for me.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2010


Capt. Renault: "So Sarah Palin in 2012?

Good lord, no. Think: The Donald, President of Trump United States Casino and Resort.

It'd be nothing if not entertaining. And AMAZING. Isn't it AMAZING?
"

What'd be more entertaining is my campaign (still working on it, though).

Who the fuck doesn't want conspiratorial RAINBOW HELICOPTERS! (Rainbow is the new black, sponsored by Skittles. No more black budgets propping this up).
posted by symbioid at 12:54 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are elements which, if isolated from the rest, would be improvements. They are not worth some of the more noxious elements of the bill, notably the purchase mandate.

How can you, as a supporter of socialized medicine, consider the purchase mandate noxious? What is a tax-supported government entitlement program other than a program you're mandated to participate in?

Yeah, I think it's inferior to single-payer. But like it or not there's huge opposition to socialized medicine in the US. Privately-provided insurance that has a mandated profit maximum (85% of premiums must be spent towards care) and mandatory participation with no rescission Simply. Cannot. Work. without mandated participation. Socialized medicine itself is dependent on the entire population participating through the payment of taxes - you can't have a system if not everyone is in it.

I think we're at an impasse here and I'll simply say that I disagree with your conclusions.

[Liz Fowler is] a person who can be fired and replaced if they're not going as good a job as they should.

This is what absolutely baffles me.

You continue to operate on the assumption that the government is acting in good faith.


You continue to talk as if there's two choices: good and bad faith, with nothing in between. I disagree. I find it perfectly possible to believe that I got something that was good but not as good as I wanted. I believe it may not be executed as well as I'd like but that the possibility exists for it to be executed better.

I CERTAINLY believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that what we got was better than we'd have gotten under republican control. It's certainly better than we got in the previous 8 years under Bush. And when it comes down to November's election that's the only sensible calculation: is this sort of thing better than we'll get with a change?

You believe... what? That the government is an inherently bad faith actor who cannot be trusted to do anything in our interest? If that's true, fine, but what's the solution? Because all I hear here is "fuck the current guys" and I don't see how that helps in the long term. If throwing them out leaves us with people who take actions we find concretely worse in the short term then I just don't see what good that does us.
posted by phearlez at 12:55 PM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Truman couldn't do it, LBJ couldn't do it, Nixon couldn't do it, Clinton couldn't do it.

Is this not because it wouldn't have occurred to these people to set the bar so low?
posted by Trochanter at 1:01 PM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


phearlez, thank you for taking the time where I have been unable to.
posted by cavalier at 1:16 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Obama's Rolling Stone interview:

I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight on the public option that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care legislation now. I could have taken certain positions on aspects of the financial regulatory bill, where we got 90 percent of what we set out to get, and I could have held out for that last 10 percent, and we wouldn't have a bill. You've got to make a set of decisions in terms of "What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to just keep everybody ginned up for the next election, or at some point do you try to win elections because you're actually trying to govern?" I made a decision early on in my presidency that if I had an opportunity to do things that would make a difference for years to come, I'm going to go ahead and take it.

In other words, to quote Denzel Washington from Training Day: "This shit is chess, it ain't checkers." I genuinely believe in my heart of hearts that we will see a public option in our lifetime, but I am extremely confident that it will not happen overnight with the wave of a magic wand. It's going to happen incrementally, and we need to continue to vote for people who take us in that direction.
posted by windbox at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I prefer the Wolverine Health Care Option. (Can I derail yet?)
posted by symbioid at 1:31 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to dismiss your points entirely phearlez, but surely you can see how people would be a mite distrustful of the former VP of an insurance company being put in charge of regulating insurance companies, yes? Why should we believe for one moment that Fowler is not there to protect her corporate interests?

Obama talked about the revolving door between being a corporate stooge and being a government regulator. Fowler would seem to fit that revolving door image perfectly. Insurance industry sycophants enforcing toothless regulation was exactly what we on the side of the public option feared would happen. Since there is no public option competing with the industry and its now federally guaranteed profits the only thing we have to stand between us and rapacious health insurance CEO's is government regulation. So you can see, I'd hope, how a former health insurance CEO being in charge of the regulation would be exactly, precisely, what we feared?

The mandate, absent a public option, is a giant giveaway to the health insurance industry. The government has guaranteed them customers, and that means profits, for all eternity. Why shouldn't they screw us as hard as they possibly can? Why shouldn't Fowler make the regulation utterly toothless then jump back into her cushy VP slot and rake in a multimillion dollar bonus for her dedicated service to the industry?
posted by sotonohito at 1:34 PM on October 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


85% of premiums must be spent towards care

1. Accept legislation that specifies 85% of premiums be spent on "care."
2. Define "care" any way you want.
3. ???
4. Profit!
posted by Trochanter at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Truman couldn't do it, LBJ couldn't do it, Nixon couldn't do it, Clinton couldn't do it.

Is this not because it wouldn't have occurred to these people to set the bar so low?


Not that it doesn't make an adorable little point-scoring quip if that's where you're coming from, but then you could alternately phrase what you have said as:

"Is this not because it wouldn't have occurred to these people to get what could be done rather than accomplishing nothing?"
posted by phearlez at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You believe... what? That the government is an inherently bad faith actor who cannot be trusted to do anything in our interest? If that's true, fine, but what's the solution?

Who says there has to be one? What's the "solution" for a North Korean?

But the Democratic Party is not merely an ineffective vehicle for progressive outcomes. It is an active impediment to them. And the sooner liberal votes, dollars, and hours stop being squandered on it, the better.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


...says the guy who still has no qualms whatsoever about getting most of his information on these matters from a guy who moonlights as a paid representative for an organization expressly created by the Koch brothers for the purposes of serving as "an active impediment to progressive outcomes" and without a trace of irony...
posted by saulgoodman at 1:49 PM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Every time we suffer the tiniest setback you right wing fakers stand up with your COINTELPRO tactics to disrupt an divide us. You almost had me believing you were a real liberal until you mentioned government touching your sacred hard earned income. Dead giveaway you're a Republican. Are you Joe Beese or Joe the Plumber, or perhaps Glenn Beck has a sock puppet.

what
posted by [citation needed] at 1:55 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an impartial international observer I'd like to take a moment to say it's extremely interesting watching the New Roman Empire crash to it's knees due to fractured alliances and a choice between shit-beyond-belief and not-too-awful. You all enjoy choosing whether you wish to hurry it along or delay it as long as possible. Try not to kill too many of us during the thrashing around at the end please.
posted by longbaugh at 1:55 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is an active impediment to them.

Yes, but because the public option was totally going to get done, but alas, the Democrats, yet again, foiled all that is good and right.
posted by nomadicink at 1:57 PM on October 6, 2010


from a guy who moonlights as a paid representative for an organization expressly created by the Koch

I can't improve on what I said here:

I don't give a shit if Rupert Murdoch is funneling child pornography proceeds into his Cayman Islands bank account. Either his criticisms of Obama... are valid or they aren't.

That you've been reduced to this kind of sleazy ad hominem tells me you have no legitimate defense of Obama to offer.

posted by Joe Beese at 2:01 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not to dismiss your points entirely phearlez, but surely you can see how people would be a mite distrustful of the former VP of an insurance company being put in charge of regulating insurance companies, yes?

Of course I do, and as I've said - I didn't get what I wanted in this legislation or from the Obama administration. Shit, the Obama administration seems to make a point out of finding appointments that make me grit my teeth.

But there is a difference between being unhappy with an appointment and thinking that it means that they will subvert everything under their control. That fucking clown Mike Powell managed to engage in all sorts of shit while chairing the FCC but it didn't mean the organization didn't enforce many of the other laws under its purview during that period.

Why should we believe for one moment that Fowler is not there to protect her corporate interests?

Sounds like a good reason for oversight and keeping an eye on her job.

[plenty of complaints about Obama's promises re: lobbyists etc that I share]

So you can see, I'd hope, how a former health insurance CEO being in charge of the regulation would be exactly, precisely, what we feared?

No, I don't, because that to me is not the reasonable fear. The reasonable fear was that nothing would change.

The mandate, absent a public option, is a giant giveaway to the health insurance industry.

Point of order: the mandate is an absolute necessity whether it be via taxes to support single payer or by mandating purchases. If you

The government has guaranteed them customers, and that means profits, for all eternity. Why shouldn't they screw us as hard as they possibly can?

85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85%

Look, if you take the premise that the operative government is not going to enforce the law then you can presume anything horrible will happen. I'm not saying we don't have to concern ourselves about that but it's not a productive way to assess the value of a law. The two things have nothing to do with each other.

If you simply presume failure of implementation then why do you care about winning? Why do you not assume that if a public option had been passed that it would simply not be implemented?

But the Democratic Party is not merely an ineffective vehicle for progressive outcomes. It is an active impediment to them. And the sooner liberal votes, dollars, and hours stop being squandered on it, the better.

So your answer is "GRRRR! ANGRY! SMASH!" then?

Because I still don't get what you think is the way to go here. If the democrats are not elected then the republicans are. Do you believe that losing will drive them to this magical fairyland of proper liberalism? Do you think they'll lose and realize "well shit, may as well give up and disband" and create some vacuum for a viable alternate party?

Or maybe you really mean "Who says there has to be [a solution]?" in which case I say - what do you care then? If you've given up and think there's nothing to be done then I don't understand why you're banging on the keyboard here or bothering to be unhappy with the actions of the democrats. If there is no hope then you may as well just accept and concentrate on other things.
posted by phearlez at 2:08 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


In other words, phearlez, they're guaranteed a 15% profit margin.

By insurance standards, that is INSANE. Most insurers run at NEGATIVE margins, not positive, and use the float to make money on the open market.
posted by Malor at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malor, come on. They're guaranteed up to 15% for overhead. That's not part of "profit", unless you're saying there are no costs associated with providing insurance.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:17 PM on October 6, 2010


Not that it doesn't make an adorable little point-scoring quip

Actually, it was an actual question. But thanks for being so adorable about it.
posted by Trochanter at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2010


In other words, phearlez, they're guaranteed a 15% profit margin.

Nope. The regulation requires spending 85% of premiums on care. That means you have 15% left for EVERYTHING ELSE.

Salaries
Paperwork
Computers
Rent
Electric bills
Postage stamps
Phone bills
etc forever.

It's a motivation to operate as efficiently as possible. You can argue whether it's really necessary given the existence of competition but it is not a 15% guaranteed return unless you have some magic way to move money from the patient to the care provider without any overhead or involvement from yourself.

Most insurers run at NEGATIVE margins, not positive, and use the float to make money on the open market.

Citation please?
posted by phearlez at 2:23 PM on October 6, 2010


Actually, it was an actual question. But thanks for being so adorable about it.

That is REALLY hard to buy in light of your next comment, but I wasn't being adorable - I was sticking to the same position I have taken all along. There is good in this bill. If the choice was it or nothing then I absolutely pick this.
posted by phearlez at 2:27 PM on October 6, 2010


Again, most insurers have a negative profit margin on premiums paid. Typically, they pay out 102 to 103% of the incoming premiums, and make a profit by investing the float until they have to pay out. (which is often several years later, depending on the insurance type.) Warren Buffett is very, very happy with his insurance subidiaries when they provide him a 'negative cost of float' -- that is, they actually pay out less than they take in from premiums. As far as he's concerned, that's the grand-slam home run of insurance, being paid to take money.

Guaranteeing a 15% profit margin on premiums is ridiculous. The market was already a hell of a lot MORE efficient than that. It probably means your premiums are going to go up in the new system, not down.

The healthcare bill solved the wrong problem. The REAL problem is the acceleration of healthcare costs each year. Even if this system was 20% more efficient than the old one (and it appears likely that the old one was better), when healthcare costs are rising 6 to 8 percent a year, that only buys three or four years, and then you're right back where you started.

We need to figure out why healthcare is getting so expensive, and I'm strongly suspicious that it's a symptom of monetary disorder. Doctors are one of the few sectors in the economy that truly have pricing power, so they can demand their fair share of the flood of dollars in the financial system. Prices keep going up, at least partially, because the number of dollars are increasing faster than the number of doctors.

Even if the Republicans don't gut these programs, don't expect much from them.
posted by Malor at 2:29 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone forwarded this link on to me.

In the end, I decided I didn't want to post this, because I had already posted in comments twice how Obama had promised a public option in his campaign materials, yet Ironmouth and others kept bullying us on Metafilter about how Obama never lied, and if we don't vote for the Democratic Party then we're voting for the Tea Party.

Then the thread becomes a shitpile that invariably ends up on Metatalk.

Since this is here, I'll say that I lived through eight years of fear and lies under the Bush administration. I have to say that I'm tired of being afraid and being fucking lied to time and again by people whose party I did vote for.

I'm tired of "pragmatism" used as a crap excuse to lie to me and to bully me. The Democratic Party and their bullies and liars can shove off and get votes from someone else, as far as I'm concerned. I'm done with their lies, their fear and their bullying.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on October 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Citation please?

Here's Warren Buffett talking about margins in insurance, from 2005. It's not about healthcare directly, but it'll give you an idea of how insurance actually works.
posted by Malor at 2:35 PM on October 6, 2010


That is REALLY hard to buy in light of your next comment,

That one I framed as a joke. But I'm serious as serious about it as the other. What the hell does "care" mean?
posted by Trochanter at 2:41 PM on October 6, 2010


The Buffet piece is talking about pre-paid general liability insurance, sold as a commodity in a competitive market. It has zilch to do with healthcare insurance, where there has been little competion in most states and where profit has been pursued by denying or limiting coverage to high-risk individuals. The eighty-five percent rule is a huge step in the right direction. It also sets a benchmark that will be easily surpassed by even the clumsiest public option proposal half a dozen years from now -- I think it's a great setup for the next round of reform.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 2:49 PM on October 6, 2010


Again, most insurers have a negative profit margin on premiums paid.

Buffet says they make a profit half the time.

When an underwriting profit is achieved - as has been the case at Berkshire in about half of the 38 years we have been in the insurance business - float is better than free.

I'm also very reluctant to accept this parallel from car insurance to health care. I guess we can compare declaring a vehicle totaled to a lifetime payout cap but I'll point out again that we've legislated that away.

Which drives home the fact that the 85% requirement doesn't exist on its own. It is in place to cope with other issues, including the end of rescission and lifetime caps, and it is a perfectly reasonable response to the question I used it as an answer to: "Why shouldn't they screw us as hard as they possibly can?" Because they cannot.

Whether it's harder than they should be allowed to screw us is perfectly reasonable to ask but was not the point I was attempting to respond to.

What the hell does "care" mean?

You want specifics, read the bill. As I said above, the point is that it is a restriction that is in place to provide a check against the possible abuse that could open up as a result of requiring everyone participate.

And I'll repeat for completeness: complete participation is an absolute necessity for success whether it be single-payer or this system.

This is getting into the weeds here and if you want more detail you're better off going back and reading all the analysis Ezra Klein did along the way; if I know it it's because of something he reported on or a link I followed or was inspired to find because of his coverage. My core point isn't to be an apologist - I'm NOT happy with what I have gotten from Obama - or say we shouldn't care that we didn't get what we were promised.

My point is just to say that we did get something worthwhile. I'm about at the limit of my interest in spending time defending it because it's not like it's what I wanted and I'm oh so giddy over it. But that doesn't make it shit.

I don't like how we got here, but I think the Greenwalds and the Hamshires are taking way too linear and 20/20 hindsight a view by saying the information that sparked all this up at the top translates into a sellout. I think it's just as possible that we ended up with this deal because it's the deal that could be done. To try to trace a single-file A->B->C->D chain and say that there's one single point that makes it OBVIOUS that the public option was flat-out given away for no reason doesn't seem to be a realistic measurement of how deals this complicated get done.

That's not a blank check from me to the dems; I think the communication was poor on a lot of people's parts. The administration, if they had to give this away, coulda done a better job of making me believe that. Plenty of senators could have grown a spine and sold this better. I'm agog we're not seeing them sell stuff NOW, as I said before.

Blazecock can decide he can't stomach giving votes to people who've betrayed his trust - it's his vote. I simply, personally, cannot escape the fact that whether I vote or not there will be an election and there will in almost every case be two viable options. I'm gonna pick the one that will fuck me less. The health care bill was by no means a fucking.
posted by phearlez at 3:05 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you've given up and think there's nothing to be done then I don't understand why you're banging on the keyboard here or bothering to be unhappy with the actions of the democrats. If there is no hope then you may as well just accept and concentrate on other things.

Sound advice. But easier said than done.

For example: I'll go to my favorite web site and read where Obama is calling me "irresponsible" for "complaining" about his having lied - as brazenly and cynically as Tom DeLay peddling bullshit to the rubes in his crowd - about a major campaign promise. As someone who had been desperate enough to believe him when he said he wasn't like all the others, who sent him money, put the bumper sticker on his car, had the sign in the yard, cheered the night he was elected, that makes me pretty fucking angry.

Then come the party faithful with their pony insults and Nader resentment and sudden tolerance for the execution of American citizens without trial. That doesn't help.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:06 PM on October 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


phearlez When the government installs a corporate insider it seems to be the fox guarding the hen house taken to the extreme. Why shouldn't I expect an operative of the health insurance industry to fail to enforce the law?

When Obama says "I firmly believe that this woman, a former Health Insurance VP and Health Insurance Lobbyist with a guaranteed multimillion dollar job anytime she leaves government work and chooses to return to her former employers will enforce the law even if it means harm to her former and future employers" either he's lying or he's an idiot. And I don't think Obama is an idiot. It smells like a setup to me.

Here's what I hear: "Yeah those insurance megacorps are going to have to spend 85% on patient care, as defined and enforced by this insurance megacorp executive and lobbyist I'm putting in charge of making sure all regulations are toothless!"

I fully expect that, by the time she's finished the Health Insurance Industry CEO Yacht Fund will be defined as "patient care".

If you simply presume failure of implementation then why do you care about winning?

Once the Public Option was killed I didn't. The Public Option was the only thing I ever believed would keep the Health Insurance Industry from turning the bill into a huge transfer of wealth from us to their CEO's.

If people have the ability to flee the corporate health insurance industry then, and only then, will that industry have any incentive to be something other than the rapacious scum they are. From the moment the Public Option as dead I expected a health industry operative to be installed as the "enforcer" and I was right.

That 85% promised by the law will be whittled away by the health insurance industry's handpicked "enforcer", and what little remains will never be enforced because there will never, ever, be funds freed up for enforcement.

Which is why I, and many others, said that without the Public Option this bill was a giant giveaway to the health insurance industry, and now we're seeing that prediction playing out perfectly. I'd have been delighted to be proven wrong on that, but Obama's pick proves that he doesn't give a flying fuck about enforcement, if he did he wouldn't have chosen an actual, genuine, health insurance VP to oversee things.

I didn't care about winning once Obama sold us out on the public option, because any victory will be hollow and quickly turn into a loss by us and a true victory for the health insurance industry.

Ultimately all that will come of this is that we're forced by federal law to buy wastepaper at high prices to ensure the federally enforced profit margins of the health denial industry. We didn't win, we lost. If you see a victory there, especially after Obama appointed a helath insurance industry insider as his "enforcer" I don't know what to say. It is shit, and I refuse to smile and say it is something other than shit.

As for Obama, if he wasn't a weasel, if this really were the absolute for real best he could possibly do, he could have damn well told us that instead of saying he was fighting for the Public Option long after he'd bargained it away. He could have appointed a real consumer advocate instead of an industry shark as the enforcer. But he didn't. He traded away the Public Option and then lied and said he was fighting for it, and then he sold us out and installed a corporate shark. I'll vote for him in 2012 despite all that, and despite all his fuck you hippie type comments, and despite every other time he's sold us out. Because the alternative is worse. But the first time voters won't be back and without them he will lose.

Why he thinks insulting his base after he sells them out is a good idea I'll never know. He likes to be popular, to fit in, and punching hippies is the best way to be popular and fit in among the Villagers so maybe that's it. I don't know though, I'd have thought his desire to win in 2012 might make him willing to annoy the Village and maybe, just maybe, not punch a hippie.
posted by sotonohito at 3:17 PM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


If this is such a fabulous deal for the insurance companies that locks in huge profits and gaurantees customers why would they spend tens of millions to try to buy the 2010 election so they can roll it back? Joe your position makes no logical sense. It requires the insurance companies negotiate a secret back room deal, put their person in charge of writing a bill to their total advantage and then having spent all that energy and money and time, they then mount an enourmous AstroTurf campaign to undermine their moment to triumph.
posted by humanfont at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The reason I am skeptical of the 85% rule being simply and fairly enforced: Because of what happened when we prevented them from rejecting kids with pre-existing conditions. It's a loophole so big you can drive a truck through it--if you're going to make us insure sick kids, we'll just get out of the business of selling independent policies for kids at all. Long before this story was broken in the press, we all found out about it on AskMeFi.

I don't know what the loophole on this 85% rule will turn out to be, yet, but I'm just so excited to find out what will happen next. As long as the insurance companies are involved, you can be sure it will involve them making more money and us not getting the healthcare we need.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep going back to analyzing the tactics of Mr. Obama and the Democrats based simply on game theory - just based on the idea of "trying to win" rather than ideological ideas that I might and might not like - and they seem to always pick highly suboptimal ("bad") strategies.

Again, I go back to the problem that the Democrats seem unbelievably timid - and yet timidity is a strategy that is known to lose in almost every interesting game.

Consider poker or any other betting game. If you're playing with five other people, on the average you're willing one pot in six - so you don't get too many wins in a night. Even intermediate level poker players learn how to maximize their returns from winning pots by betting aggressively (which doesn't necessarily mean "a lot in a hurry"). This betting strategy exposes your good hand to more risks but it maximizes your return over the night.

Or take Go, a game I play a lot. You often see players who never make a "wrong" move in the game, never exposing their stones to significant risk - and yet they lose - because you can't win a game without expanding somewhat more widely than is "safe". Yes, you lose some stones that way, but overall you get a much better gain. And once you gain an advantage in an area, that's a reason to advance even more aggressively in that area, not to hang back cautiously.

That's true in real life, too. You simply cannot really achieve anything significant without taking risks and failing some portion of the time. If you sit at home, nothing will happen to you.

And yet we see this inexplicable timidity. Mr. Obama had a huge mandate! He should have pushed the heck out of single payer - the only form of government health care that has a track record of success. He could easily have looked at Canada, it's hard to find two countries more similar than the US and Canada, and said, "Let's do that!"

Now, there are a lot of crazy Americans, and perhaps he might not have got all of that. But once you've spent a lot of time arguing over whether single payer is right, then other options like "the public option" seem positively... conservative!

Single payer is in fact the only thing that would have worked well. But it's not even idealism - it's simply pragmatism that your initial demands are extremely high particularly when you are starting from a position of great strength. Who knows when you're going to get this "good pot" again? You need to maximize your results because there might be eight more years of Republicans and so you need to push aggressively, early for a very strong result.

You don't somehow "save your energy" or "make it easier" by being less aggressive. The Republicans irrationally attacked each and every suggestion - they weren't going to attack any less because the Democrats proposed a wimpy plan.


There's another bad game playing aspect, and that's their tendency to risk a large loss against a small win. Take their idea of moving sharply to the right to "appeal to more people" - they're risking the possibility of damaging their large base against the chance of appealing to a tiny number of people on the right, simply discounting the risk that we'd become disaffected.

The Administration even talked about their strategy in almost all these terms, claiming they'd have a "big tent" with both Democrats and Republicans.

But in fact they alienated their base, and simply pushed the Republicans further to the Right. And worse, no one respected them for it - they just took a loss all around. Do you think the Republicans don't laugh when Rahm abuses "liberals"? (Stupid man. /me spits.)


The whole Gulf fiasco was just the same. By giving our more permits to drill in the Gulf than any administration before, they gained a tiny bit of credit with the oil people - but exposed the Administration to great risk. It was almost surrealistic that the Gulf spill happened only a couple of weeks after both Republicans and Mr. Obama gave speeches in favour of drilling in the Gulf.


Worse, there's been a serious "dog ate my homework" aspect to all of these "achievements".

Look at the health care system - not just the implementation of the thing but the actual rules have not been set and in many cases are left to the states. To the states! Suddenly 50 new bureaucracies have been created. And anyone watching this whole spectacle wonders - won't the shit hit the fan before this is even put into action? Aren't the states out of money? Aren't half of them run by right-wing nutcases who will simply defy the law?

Look at the financial "reform". Forget about the fact that no one went to jail or suffered anything other than a slap on the wrist (so why won't they figure out new ways to do it again?) They didn't actually set many new rules - but there's a new commission that will be created in the future that will deal with this.

What's wrong with the SEC? They've historically done a pretty damn decent job at detecting and prosecuting fraud even at the highest levels - they're one of the few organizations that have never shown any corruption (who knows what they're like post-Bush, of course). Their issue is always getting people because it's hard to complete with the funding of the Wall St.

There are agencies already regulating the banks, the insurance countries, you name it. Why another one? And what exactly will it do?


And finally, we get to the personal betrayals. These are the ones where I personally don't really care about the pragmatism of it all - I feel that if Mr. Obama were the person I originally thought he was, he'd never have been a party to these things at all.

This refers of course to the unrelenting assault on human rights, which Mr. Obama is now attempting to permanently make law; his shameful abandonment of the Guantanamo prisoners; the drone attacks; the assassination lists; the sabre-rattling toward Iran, Pakistan and such; the persecution of the whistleblowers (and inaction on gay rights, which isn't in my mind the same as running camps, but still very disappointing).

That's just wrong. I don't really care how pragmatic it is. The US runs concentration camps. There's no better word for it.

Many of you argued about this before. The US Holocaust Museum says: "The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy. "

Hundreds of men and children languish in unspeakably vile jail cells. Mr. Obama has made it clear that many of these men will never have any form of hearing whatsoever. Many of them have already died, and some have been proven to have been tortured to death in horrible ways.

To sum up my arguments:

1. Mr. Obama and the Democrats play the game of politics as a game so very badly you have to wonder if they're trying to throw it.
2. They are unable to translate their victories into significant gains.
3. Conversely, they take large risks in order to gains that are at best marginal.
4. Many of their achievements do not actually have implementation details and are sketchy.
5. There is blood on their hands.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:42 PM on October 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


David Leonhart shares my view that the plan is good but lacking.

His comment about the administration signaling they might grant an exemption to orgs like McDs for their shit-tacular plans can lend weight to those of you who think it'll be mismanaged to the point of useless, though I think there's some justification for exempting the plans till the exchanges and price supports kick in in 2014. (yes, it was a stupid schedule)

He claims, also without citation, that currently health insurance companies are spending 30% on salaries.
posted by phearlez at 3:45 PM on October 6, 2010


For the record, while I disagree with a few points of fact here and there in lupus_yonderboy's posting* I concur with the overall sentiments completely.

* Yes, that's cheap and I owe you better & more specific than that but I'm sorry - we're far enough down in this thread and I have written so much that I am simply tired.
posted by phearlez at 3:51 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In July 2009, when Obama sold us out on this"

There's that peculiar "us" again. I keep wondering who that's supposed to refer to. You got a mouse in your pocket, Joe Beese?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:53 PM on October 6, 2010


Well, most of what he's saying applies to me as well, so there's at least that many for 'us'.
posted by Malor at 4:10 PM on October 6, 2010


Count me in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:31 PM on October 6, 2010


That's some good shit, lupus_yonderboy.
posted by Trochanter at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2010


Not voting may not be a vote for Palin, but mathematically it is half of one.

Even if the Republicans are horribly skewing the system rightward at the moment, we should still at least vote Democrat, instead of abstaining (very bad) or voting Republican (even worse) if just to show them maybe that being insane doesn't mean we roll over and give you everything you want?

Obama might not be perfect, but he's better than McCain would have been, than Palin could ever be. Winning one Presidential election isn't going to do it. We need national movements, true grassroots movements to combat the astroturf FOX is backing.

To think two years ago we were talking about how defeated and sad the Republicans seemed. We should not have felt sorry for the bastards.
posted by JHarris at 4:46 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


phearlez: that's fair enough, it's more of a rant anyway, you aren't expected to affirm or deny each subparagraph!!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:59 PM on October 6, 2010


The US runs concentration camps.

Cue sequence...

1. Obama can't make closing Guantanamo his first priority. Do you realize how much shit Bush left him to clear up?

2. Obama will close Guantanamo soon. But he can't spend all his political capital on it right now.

3. Failing to close Guantanamo in a year doesn't count as a broken promise because Congress wouldn't let him. He's not all powerful you know.

4. Will you please be quiet? You're jeapordizing Obama's compromise with rabid anti-choice Republicans to secure passage of the health care bill that turned out not to really need a public option after all.

5. So you want President Palin?

6. So what's your solution?

Pro Tip: The Democratic Party does not enjoy special exemption from the Nuremberg Laws.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Single Payer looks great on paper until you start writing the plan to actually move everyone from their existing coverage to the new plans. Do you understand how totally impossible that is? Particularly if you don't want to tell some to go to a new doctor, or change their existing co-pay, deductible and premium costs. What you propose is belling the cat.
posted by humanfont at 5:07 PM on October 6, 2010


Joe, calling into question the reliability of a highly questionable source of information is not an ad hominem. You love to call the credibility of sources that conflict with your own narrow viewpoint suspect even when you have no concrete factual basis for skepticism, so forgive me for not taking your gripe at face value. In this case, though, it's actually true that Greenwald also represents an organization with an appalling and well-documented record of propagandizing on the behalf of the wealthy political interests that created it. I don't really care if you're convinced. I just want everyone to know and understand the pernicious role organizations like Cato have come to play. And Greenwald's just another stooge of that power nexus as a matter of settled fact in my mind, regardless of who sits in the White House or what Greenwald insinuates about them through his lawyerly, selective interpretations of facts.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:32 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Do you understand how totally impossible that is?

No, I do not. I come from Canada that did just that, not that long ago and that worked out very well.

I'm getting very sick of arguments that sound like, "Why can't American do [this thing that they do everywhere else]?" "You don't understand! [Argument that basically says that Americans are unable to achieve anything]".

But it's like you don't read my underlying point: you should ask for a LOT more than hope to get, otherwise you won't get much at all. Mr. Obama the pre-candidate talked about single payer; Mr. Obama the candidate talked about the public option.

> What you propose is belling the cat.

You have that metaphor wrong. Mr. Obama volunteered to bell the cat. He then proceeded to make a deal with the cat, where the states would later set up a cat-belling system in exchange for the cat guaranteeing to eat 2% fewer mice over the next ten years than he would have otherwise.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:39 PM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


the drone attacks

Oh, that reminds me...

You know that terrorist who tried to blow up Times Square? And they arrested him and put him on trial? And they convicted him and now he's behind bars for life? The standard procedure?
After Shahzad had pleaded guilty to the first charge, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Judge Cedarbaum said, "I gather you want to plead guilty to all [the charges.]

"Yes," said Shahzad, and then said he wanted to plead guilty and 100 times more," because he wanted the U.S. to know it will continue to suffer attacks if it does not leave Iraq and Afghanistan and stop drone strikes in Pakistan.
So you remember back when the Iraq War was still young, fresh, and seemingly full of possibility, you made fun of how stupid George W. Bush was not to understand how he was inflaming anti-American hatred throughout the Muslim world?

Well, guess what?

Obama has been so free-spending with those costly drone missiles - "Fire all you want! We'll make more!" - as they blow up Pakistani daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters militants, disproving any hint of wimpiness by remaining resolute in the assault during the one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, that those ungrateful wretches are forgetting who they're working for. 

They're actually refusing to let us use the better of the two supply routes into Afghanistan - where after ten years and debt we'll be paying until 2150, the war is going better than ever, thanks to the Bush team Obama left in place, figuring that they'll probably do better this time - which cumulatively account for 80% of our ability to supply the troops we're counting on to successfully do whatever they're currently trying to do in Afghanistan, though what that is remains subject to change.

And that Al-Awlaki guy I keep nagging you about?

In fact, consider what would likely happen if we did succeed in assassinating the Wikipedia-condemned, Evil Al Qaeda Monster, Anwar Awlaki.  I've devoted little attention to this question because I don't believe the President has the authority to order due-process-free CIA assassinations of American citizens even if good outcomes can be achieved.  But it's hard to imagine a good outcome from this action.

Whatever else Awlaki is, he's a highly popular Islamic cleric to whom huge numbers of Muslims listen.  If the U.S. were to kill him in a drone attack as he sleeps, it would eliminate Awlaki, but it is painfully obvious that: (a) someone would quickly take his place (does Awalki radicalize Muslim youth, or do they listen to him because they're already radicalized?); (b) his anti-American sermons (preserved forever on the Internet) would almost certainly be even more influential and popular if he were "martyred" by the U.S.; and, most important, (c) killing him would inspire large numbers of his devout, youthful adherents to want to attack Americans in retaliation.


Yeah, Bush sure was stupid when he did stuff like that.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the U.S. were to kill him in a drone attack as he sleeps, it would eliminate Awlaki, but it is painfully obvious that ...

All of those points are equally valid about bin Laden. Does he get a pass?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:38 PM on October 6, 2010


All of those points are equally valid about bin Laden. Does he get a pass?

If by "a pass" you mean "exemption from assassination at the whim of the President of the United States", he sure does. But I know that 9/11 has the power to cloud men's minds, so I'll let you start with the simpler case of an American citizen not even charged with let alone convicted of any crime worse than solicitation of prostitution.

You say his guilt is obvious? Put up or shut up. Present the evidence in open court. I'm not going to take your word it or the word of the United States government - who so recently assured us that Guantamo housed "the worst of the worst".
posted by Joe Beese at 7:05 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


me & my monkey: All of those points are equally valid about bin Laden. Does he get a pass?

This isn't a perfect analogy, since Al-Awlaki is an American citizen and bin Laden is not.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:29 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


If by "a pass" you mean "exemption from assassination at the whim of the President of the United States", he sure does.

So, in your mind, there's no possible justification for the use of extrajudicial lethal force? How is this any different from attempting to assassinate heads of state of countries at war? Would Hitler and Mussolini have been off-limits during WW2? And if Awlaki turned himself in to the US Embassy at Yemen tomorrow, he would no longer be targeted for assassination, right? He's been targeted because he can't reasonably be apprehended.

But I know that 9/11 has the power to cloud men's minds, so I'll let you start with the simpler case of an American citizen not even charged with let alone convicted of any crime worse than solicitation of prostitution.

How is that a simpler case? ObL hasn't been charged with or convicted of anything either. Are you suggesting a trial in absentia?

This isn't a perfect analogy, since Al-Awlaki is an American citizen and bin Laden is not.

No, but it addresses the consideration of outcomes that Joe quoted.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:44 PM on October 6, 2010


Al-Awaki is not under an assassination order. He has been placed under a capture or kill order which is no different than the police would do if you were walking around downtown with an AK-47 and shooting up civilians. The difference is that Al-Awaki is doing the Ak-47 walk in Yemen and coordinating attacks like the recent Ft. Hood Shooting and writing editorials in his Jihadi Magazine called Inspire that its best to just shoot americans at random because the US can't protect everyone. He's not out there issuing denials from Yemin saying, hey guys you have it all wrong my Die America t-shirt was German, it means The America, like I love the America.
posted by humanfont at 8:20 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Al-Awaki is not under an assassination order. He has been placed under a capture or kill order.

Cite or it didn't happen.

The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen....

Not "the capture or killing of". The "targeted killing of".

... the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing... "If we think direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that."

Not "capture or killing". Just "killing".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:45 PM on October 6, 2010


me & my monkey: No, but it addresses the consideration of outcomes that Joe quoted.

I don't even know what this sentence means. That being said, I forgot to mention another big difference between the two: Osama bin Laden has repeatedly publicly claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 3,000 people. Al-Awlaki hasn't confessed to any crime. Outside of anonymous government leaks and rumors, the closest thing we have to evidence against Al-Awlaki is an audiotape of someone saying "jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim," but the tape hasn't even been authenticated as coming from him. And what if it is him? The First Amendment protects his ability to say it, as misguided and reprehensible as it may be. A lot of people are saying his assassination is justified because these acts are treasonous, but Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution says "No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." In other words, you cannot constitutionally make a determination of treason without a trial in the first place, which this Administration isn't willing to give him before they blow him to pieces.

How is this any different from attempting to assassinate heads of state of countries at war?

Uh, (a) he's not a head of state like Hitler or Mussolini, and (b) the United States isn't at war with Yemen like we were with Germany and Italy.

Look, I don't think Al-Awlaki is a good guy. (Kinda weird I'm even saying that, considering that I have no facts to base that opinion on, but whatever.) But he's a fucking American citizen, which means we're getting to a point where there aren't a whole lot of places left where we can draw lines. Advocates of this assassination program are suggesting that the only proof it takes to justify killing an American citizen without trial is evidence that he might have said something mean. If the theory is that it's cool to zap him in Yemen because "the battlefield is everywhere" in this Global War on Terror, what's to stop us from assassinating someone in Western Europe? Detroit?

This isn't a purely academic question. Considering the well-established fact that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment and federal law to warrantlessly wiretap the American offices of an Islamic charity suspected of having "direct links" with bin Laden, and the fact that our federal courts have repeatedly denied the plaintiffs the ability to introduce the one piece of evidence that proves their case, a transcript of their own conversations recorded by the NSA, because the government says their own words are a "state secret," thereby denying them all ability to stop the illegal and unconstitutional wiretapping, get redress for this violation of their constitutional rights, or any kind of resolution whatsoever, I imagine there are a bunch of Muslim American citizens who are getting pretty nervous right now. Obama's DOJ stood behind Bush's DOJ's argument on that issue and is now pushing for the right to drop a missile on American citizens for the exact same level of suspicion (maybe even less, honestly) anywhere in the world. After Obama had campaigned on undoing these exact kinds of excesses.

If he's guilty, which I find eminently believable, and there's so much evidence of it, put the goddamn guy on trial. For crying out loud.

Sorry for the derail from the health care issue, and know that I voted for Barack two years ago and I'm voting Democratic this fall, but Jesus Christ don't act like those of us who are dissatisfied are just irrational adolescents dreaming of some rainbow unicorn built out of cocaine.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:45 PM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Again, humanfont, if that's true, then prove it. That's what courts are for.
posted by Malor at 8:48 PM on October 6, 2010


Not "capture or killing". Just "killing".

Why would they need permission from the President and the National Security Council to capture him?

I don't even know what this sentence means.

Read Joe's pull-quote again. It talks about the outcome of killing Awlaki, aside from whether killing him is legally or morally justified, and lists three negative possibilities. I don't see how the possibilities are any different from those that you'd get by killing ObL.

Uh, (a) he's not a head of state like Hitler or Mussolini, and (b) the United States isn't at war with Yemen like we were with Germany and Italy.

Well, since he's not a head of state of Yemen I don't really see why it's relevant that we're not at war with Yemen. But we are in some sort of conflict with non-state entities, and these entities have leaders. Are those leaders fair game? If so, would they not be fair game if they held dual citizenship?

If the theory is that it's cool to zap him in Yemen because "the battlefield is everywhere" in this Global War on Terror, what's to stop us from assassinating someone in Western Europe? Detroit?

Presumably, he could be captured without military force in Western Europe, or maybe even Detroit. But frankly this is slippery-slope bullshit, just like legal abortion doesn't lead to infanticide and gay marriage doesn't lead to bestiality.

put the goddamn guy on trial

You can't try someone who's not in custody. If there was a trial in absentia, it wouldn't mean very much, would it?

Jesus Christ don't act like those of us who are dissatisfied are just irrational adolescents dreaming of some rainbow unicorn built out of cocaine.

I don't think I've done that. But this Awlaki thing isn't as simple as Joe and you make it out to be.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:13 PM on October 6, 2010


Single Payer looks great on paper until you start writing the plan to actually move everyone from their existing coverage to the new plans. Do you understand how totally impossible that is? Particularly if you don't want to tell some to go to a new doctor, or change their existing co-pay, deductible and premium costs.

Why would anyone need to change doctors? Do you think that doctors will suddenly stop taking patients with insurance if single-payer is implemented? Of course not; that would leave only those who could afford to pay any and all expenses out of pocket without a problem, and a typical doctor isn't even likely to be that wealthy (especially if he's refusing to accept the single-payer government insurance).

As for changes in the coverage itself: do you think that such changes could come only at the whim of the government? It's slightly less sinister for the government to be changing your insurance against your will than for ConHugeCo to be doing the same thing and make more money by worsening the quality of the medical care you receive.

In sum: single-payer does not work that way. Good night.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:40 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Specific Cites:

Treasury Defines Al-Awaki as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224

Executive Order 13470 from 2008 " Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination." --which is why we designate people as SDGT's which allows us to confiscate their assets, block banking transactions and take military action to capture or kill them. And if you think about it you want to capture the terrorist if at all possible since that leads to all kinds of useful information. Still it isn't always practical since they are often not hiding in a spider hole, but instead are shooting back.

I suppose it is possible that Al-Awaki is a victim of a massive misunderstanding. But unlikely. Here is a detailed timeline of his statements and known public actions. He's given plenty of interviews, spoken to numerous groups and has gone on the record multiple times. You can see how we would totally be confused given his statements like this recent gem from May 23 of this year for 45 minutes discussing the charges against him:

On his relationship with the Ft. Hood Shooter: "Nidal Hasan is a student of mine, and I am proud of this. I am proud that there are people like Nidal Hasan among my students. What he did was a heroic act, a wonderful operation... I call upon [all] Muslims to follow in his footsteps, and to wage Jihad by speech or by action."

On his relationship with his country of birth(USA) "We are dealing with an infidel country, America, which is at war with us. "

Regarding his relationship with the Christmas Day Delta Airlines Bomber: " Umar Farouk, he is likewise a student of mine, and this also is an honor. I support what he did."

Regarding the settling of accounts with America in Blood: "After all this, no one should even ask us about targeting a bunch of Americans who would have been killed in an airplane. Our unsettled account with America includes, at the very least, one million women and children. I’m not even talking about the men. Our unsettled account with America, in women and children alone, has exceeded one million. "


I note the suggestion on preview that some imply that maybe it wasn't him on the tape. Ok well here is his interview with Al-Jazera.

The relevant passage:

Have you met Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and did you issue a fatwa [a religious edict] allowing him to carry out the operation?

My fellow mujahid [a Muslim engaged in jihad] Umar Farouk, may Allah free him, is one of my students, and yes there was some contact between me and him, but I did not issue a fatwa allowing him to carry out this operation.

Does describing him as a "mujahid" mean you support what he did?

Yes, I support what Umar Farouk has done...

posted by humanfont at 10:28 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



His comment about the administration signaling they might grant an exemption to orgs like McDs for their shit-tacular plans can lend weight to those of you who think it'll be mismanaged to the point of useless, though I think there's some justification for exempting the plans till the exchanges and price supports kick in in 2014. (yes, it was a stupid schedule)


The administration just did more than signal, the DHHS just granted waivers to McDonald's and 29 other companies. More than a million low-wage workers will now not get the consumer protections many of you arguing upthread are part of this wonderful new health care bill Obama has passed for us.

By the time the lobbyists are done with this law, the only thing remaining will be a requirement for us to pay private insurance companies. That 85 percent revenue to medical care is probably the next to go.


You know, I didn't like Clinton very much, and despised Bush, but I think Obama is probably the worst, and certainly the most dangerous, of the three.--

-- That goes down as the most hyperbolic and asinine comment I have ever read on Mefi and that's saying something. Congratulations.


No, it's not hyperbolic. And here's why. When Bush pushed through bills and authorizations for things like the NSA wiretapping domestic converstations, torture, use of state secrets to remove the right for a fair and open trial, we were outraged. Not just Democrats, but many Americans. But we told ourselves: This is just temporary. It's just one bad apple. We had Nixon before and we got through it. The rule of law will prevail.

Instead, Obama has come through and given his stamp of approval for these horrid practices and policies. Now it wasn't just a cowboy wartime President who approved torture and wiretapping citizens, it was a liberal Democrat.

He normalized this behavior.

He tells us: We're looking forward, not backwards. But I'm looking forward, and I don't like what I see. A nation that spies on its citizens, that illegally detains and imprisons people. Those aren't good things, and they won't lead to a pretty future. A super-powerful intelligence service doesn't usually lead to a stable country. It usually leads to a instability and coups. And even if we never go through that, the system leads to abuses and fear and mistrust of our own Government.

Now that Obama has given his tacit approval of these things, I don't see them getting dismantled anytime soon. And I see people gradually coming to accept them. And that's what makes it worse.
posted by formless at 10:44 PM on October 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Look, I don't think Al-Awlaki is a good guy. (Kinda weird I'm even saying that, considering that I have no facts to base that opinion on, but whatever.) But he's a fucking American citizen, which means we're getting to a point where there aren't a whole lot of places left where we can draw lines.

We could draw them around the kinds of activities that have made Al-Awlaki the subject of a capture or kill order.

You can't try someone who's not in custody. If there was a trial in absentia, it wouldn't mean very much, would it?

I agree with most of the rest of what you said me & my monkey, but I'd suggest that a trial in absentia, while not a good idea in most circumstances, is probably a decent way of handling the fundamental problem in cases like al-Awlaki's. Yes, he's an American citizen, yes, it'd clearly be better if we could handle this with the criminal justice system, but the guy is staying outside the reach of the system, and simultaneously acting against the security of U.S. citizens. The security apparatus is probably right to go after him. The civil libertarians are probably right to look down the road at the uncomfortable implications. Working to formalize in absentia judicial review specifically for cases like this would help keep the members of the executive honest and still let them do their constitutionally mandated duty.

Or, you know, we could forget this whole balance between important principles and subtle compromise thing, and just pick one side and beat the respective horse well past the stage of rigor mortis. At least, that seems to be more satisfying for some people.
posted by namespan at 11:16 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



4. Will you please be quiet? You're jeapordizing Obama's compromise with...

I'm pretty damn sure that's not what this is about for most of the people who want the left/hippies/progressives to stick with the Democratic caucus.

Scream, kick, cry, yell at the caucus all you want to move to do better on the issues -- or hell, even figure out a few carrots. You're sure the power of the Democratic party is in its lefty base? Well then, if you're correct, that base is just waiting for someone like you to come along and lead it to empowerment inside the caucus. Do it. Work to make the Ben Nelsons and Max Bauccuses and Joe Liebermans of the world irrelevant. Please.

But going dark? Opting out? Taking your ball and going home? Well, now that is being quiet.

Don't be quiet.
posted by namespan at 12:02 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Treasury Defines Al-Awaki as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224

The word "capture" does not appear in this document. Neither do the words "arrest" or "detain".  

Moreover, we have already slaughtered dozens of women and children trying to kill him with a cruise missile.

Executive Order 13470 from 2008 " Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination." 

Reagan said ketchup was a vegetable. That didn't make it one. 

Killing Al-Awlaki is assassination - even if The Leader signs a piece of paper saying it's something else.

... if you think about it you want to capture the terrorist if at all possible since that leads to all kinds of useful information

You're basing your argument on the government demonstrating common sense?

In summary: You have not yet demonstrated that there is a "capture or kill" order - as was previously claimed. All you have demonstrated is that The Leader has signed a piece of paper saying "It's legal for me to have this guy killed."

You then present your claims Al-Awlaki is guilty. That's a start. Now present them to a judge who can appraise their evidentiary value and allow your claims to be challenged by a defense attorney. It's called "due process". And I have a nostalgic attachment to it.

After you get your conviction, you can execute him in the normal way and we can go back to talking about Lady Gaga. OK? 
posted by Joe Beese at 5:49 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe, the link you provided says nothing about him being the target.
Yemen has become a battleground between the international jihad and the West. Special forces and intelligence officials from several Nato countries, including the UK and US, have beent in the country. The Americans are hunting, in particular, Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric who is said to have been a mentor to the "underpants bomber", Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, of the US Army who shot dead 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas.
There is the only reference -- the writer extrapolating a context as to why the US may be striking in Yemen.
posted by cavalier at 6:05 AM on October 7, 2010


namespan, on the one hand you say "don't be quiet" on the other, all we're being told to do is "just shut up" what is it?
----
Now, this goes to those in middle/supporters of Obama, not specifically you, namespan...

The only thing we have to do with THOSE IN POWER NOW is withhold our votes. I am not advocating that all democrats be punished. I'm in WI and I will gladly and 100% vote for Feingold. I know he's not perfect, but he's the best of the lot and am grateful I have a chance to vote for him.

But...

There are plenty of others where the option is not so clear, including, in our opinion, this esteemed president. Out of one side of his mouth he says "I need you to push me" on the other he said "herp derp - stupid hippies..." oh, ok.. he doesn't say that, he does his smooth political operator schtick while his proxies are the ones to castigate us.

Yes, work to make better more progressive candidates out there, I agree. But again, at this point, the leadership is not pushing for a progressive agenda. This is our point... This article is one more point in that Big Fucking Clue that maybe, just maybe they aren't offering a progressive vision just a less speedy path down the corporate route.

I believe it was in this thread above (lupus_yonderboy, IIRC) who said basically NOW is the time to be pushing when you HAD the fucking capital instead of wasting it and watering it down. I don't know. I'm just tired of us being told to "not take our ball home" but that's the only damn thing we have left. OUR VOTES. So you tell us to vote... But then you tell us to vote who YOU want US to vote for, which is kinda the opposite of democracy and using our own independent free will to make our choice.

We were told "Hope" we were told "Yes We Can" But we did, and now that hopemongering has turned to fearmongering, only instead of the Muslims, it's now the Republicans we're supposed to be afraid of.

Maybe, at this point, I'm starting to feel like we really need to just get destroyed to fucking wake up. I had hoped Bush was the answer to our lethargy, but then our answer to that is "well hey, at least it's not Bush!" WE DEMAND BETTER. Why are we supposed to settle.

You're buying into the victimization of the Democratic myth. The Filibuster. Right there. That is the target. But it's a convenient scapegoat to have around "Well, we just don't have 60 fucking votes to pass shit" Really? Last I heard it was simple majority rule. But you guys just roll the fuck over and let the "gentleman's game" of politics take center.

Well we ain't fuckin' fallin' for it. If you guys continue to believe that shit? Great. Go vote your heart out. I support you for voting your conscience. I would never tell you NOT to vote for Obama if that's who you truly believe is the best answer. Or, even if you believe it's more important, and he's not the best, but lesser of two evils and you believe that's the way to proceed. But PLEASE stop telling us to shut up and accept YOUR ideology. We are adults and we have our own thought processes and reasons, and if we aren't listened to, well then, yes... You guys can blame us again, just like it keeps happening w/2000 and Nader. Always the blame game. You want our votes, Obama? WORK FOR IT. Don't let your proxies mock us, and then expect us to vote out of fear. We've moved beyond that.
posted by symbioid at 9:13 AM on October 7, 2010


they aren't offering a progressive vision just a less speedy path down the corporate route.

I even wonder if it's less speedy. Just with different noises. How's this one?

Little-Noticed Bill Could Make It Harder To Challenge Foreclosures

Your democratic congress at work for you.

Here's a little something I'm going to copyright for my stump speech. I imagine I'll say it in a Ross Perot voice:

"When you're on a highway to hell, who cares what lane your in."
posted by Trochanter at 10:31 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The administration just did more than signal, the DHHS just granted waivers to McDonald's and 29 other companies. More than a million low-wage workers will now not get the consumer protections many of you arguing upthread are part of this wonderful new health care bill Obama has passed for us.

By the time the lobbyists are done with this law, the only thing remaining will be a requirement for us to pay private insurance companies. That 85 percent revenue to medical care is probably the next to go.


Your conclusion does not follow. These waivers apply to the 85% limit but not even for the full period through 2014 when the exchanges and subsidies start and 2016 when the mandate kicks in.

The article you link from USA Today say this but buries it at the bottom: "The waivers are effective for a year and were granted to insurance plans and companies that showed that employee premiums would rise or that workers would lose coverage without them, Santillo says."

The problem demanding these waivers is that the bill's timelines are not great, in no small part because the republicans (and more significantly, their supporters), after eight years of bender-spending, suddenly got deficit religion at a time where we were struggling with other financial crises. So the subsidies and exchanges don't start till 2014.

Symboid dismisses the very real problem of the filibuster and does so unfairly. It's not an excuse, it's a fact. It's not a blank check for the democrats - the people who caused problems during the health care passage with the fillibuster were really blue dogs, not the republicans. (Though if any of these mythical "principled conservatives" like Olympia Snowe had broken ranks and stepped forward they couldn't have thwarted jackasses like Lieberman single-handedly preventing certain things from showing up in the bill.)

But it's a real fact and the chart in Ezra's article above shows that it has indeed stopped some things from moving forward completely. It really did only take ONE senator to completely derail the process, allowing one person to become more important than 59 others, much less 50, and making the Senate a place that did NOT operate by majority rule.

So this fuster-cluck leaves us with whacky timelines and while the all-important mandate doesn't kick in till later we do have this stretch now where we're making changes to coverage that will make it more pricey without providing any help to people who might be buying it.

I think it's a hard judgment call and you do disservice to the people making it by saying it's an open-and-shut defanging. I think the $728 for $2000 plan is worse than nothing but there are people who consider those odds acceptable for the potential payoff. The plan with the $10,000 payout is statistically better. Do I think McDs could manage better at that price point? Yeah, but the question is whether the payoff is worth playing chicken over it.

We're trying to move to a system where everyone views having insurance as common and part of the cost of being alive - something that would be true whether we did it by mandates or by taxes - and so in this transition period we face this kind of problem - do we decide that it's more important to keep people in this mind-set buy buying sub-optimal plans or to make sure the plans that do survive have these higher limits? The jump here for these plans isn't small - without this waiver they'd have to go to a cap of $750,000 next year and 1.25M the next.

In a perfect world we'd be bringing in the subsidies at the same time so this sort of choice doesn't have to happen but some of these blue dogs appointed themselves as King by saying they'd refuse to be one of the 60 needed to break the fillibuster if the horizon wasn't pushed out enough to save some money.

So I don't know that this is the right choice and I wish the worst-off among us were the people getting this benefit, but this isn't a roadmap straight to a fucking. I don't have the time to look up the draft DHHS rules to verify this, but the article would imply that other improvements weren't waived and that things like no deductible for preventative care still have to go into effect here.

Sadly you're not going to stop seeing these here and there issues. They're a good reason to kick around jerkoffs like Ben Nelson or Russ Feingold, folks who were willing to kill the whole thing over their bugaboo issues like abortion, and try to replace them with "better" lefties. When the exchanges leave folks in the lurch over abortion by all means, mail them a turd and contribute to their primary opponents.

But don't kid yourself that a one-year exemption during a transition period is worse than what republicans would like to do to the law. Don't pretend that a waiver which can be lifted is worse than what the status quo was before this law was passed.
posted by phearlez at 10:32 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


your a moran.
posted by Trochanter at 10:32 AM on October 7, 2010


phearlez, that was about my typo, not you. sorry.
posted by Trochanter at 10:33 AM on October 7, 2010


Obama will not sign the affidavit/notarization bill.

posted by phearlez at 10:38 AM on October 7, 2010


Well, good. But that bank friendly bill was still moved to that point quietly and efficiently. It's just funny how bipartisan and not dysfunctional the place can become for the right legislation.
posted by Trochanter at 10:44 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama will not sign the affidavit/notarization bill.

404 - Page Not Found

Changed his mind?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:47 AM on October 7, 2010


I'd have to read more about the goings-on. You can find the THOMAS information on the bill here and the section about how it was passed through was pretty blah. Does it represent some sort of scheme or just a sloppy effort to pass through stuff that nobody on either side had drawn attention to and expressed a problem with? The fact that it was in a unanimous consent pile makes it look more like sloth than conspiracy to me, but that's sort of my default assumption - idiocy is a more common element in the universe than conspiracy so when I am unsure which something is I'm gonna bet the odds.

PS, fuck you to all the media outlets who wrote about this and just couldn't be bothered to put the house identifier of HR 3808 on it. You're part of the problem when you do this and make it impossible for people to read more and educate themselves. I had spend 10 minutes looking for vote logs to try to figure it out since nobody was reporting it - I finally got it when the White House issued that press release.
posted by phearlez at 10:51 AM on October 7, 2010


Here's the cached version.

It says he "will not sign" and will "return the bill to the House of Representatives".

Is he afraid to use the word "veto" for some reason? Or is there a procedural nicety involved?

My understanding is that a pocket veto will not protect us from this.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:52 AM on October 7, 2010


Sorry Joe, I must have fat fingered the link.

Obama will not sign the affidavit/notarization bill.
posted by phearlez at 10:52 AM on October 7, 2010


Digging further on THOMAS I find the House "debate" on this - nobody piped up in opposition - pretty lackluster and missing any real sense of boogaboo. It's possible this is less justifying of real fear than HuffPo or others would have us believe.

The bill sponsors are half dems and half republicans and it seems to be a pretty un-scary bit of text saying that one state can't just refuse to recognize a document because their own notarization procedures are different. Whether this is a real problem I dunno - one of the reps claims it is and they've heard testimony from people about it back in 2006.

Is it a real problem? *shrug* There must be some process for validating these documents and I'm not sure that this text would prohibit anyone from contesting the INACCURACY of a document just because it was notarized.

Could be conspiracy, but I'm not inclined to think so. I can't be arsed but someone else could dig up the 2006 testimony before the house. It certainly pre-dates when most of us knew there was going to be a problem with this bad paper.
posted by phearlez at 11:06 AM on October 7, 2010


I didn't say anything about a conspiracy. You don't NEED a conspiracy. This stuff passes like shit through a goose.
posted by Trochanter at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


He should have pushed the heck out of single payer - the only form of government health care that has a track record of success.

"many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans."

Look at the health care system - not just the implementation of the thing but the actual rules have not been set and in many cases are left to the states. To the states! Suddenly 50 new bureaucracies have been created. And anyone watching this whole spectacle wonders - won't the shit hit the fan before this is even put into action? Aren't the states out of money?

Not necessarily 50, actually, IIRC, many of them are likely to be combined into regional exchanges. But in any case, certainly not 50 brand new bureaucracies, actually, given that most states have some kind of insurance commission / regulation already. And the exchanges are supposed to be at least partly federally funded, at least, unless we elect a Republican house this fall, in which case, they will attack the problem of cutting off funding with great relish and probably effectiveness.


Ultimately all that will come of this is that we're forced by federal law to buy wastepaper at high prices to ensure the federally enforced profit margins of the health denial industry.

Funny, just the other day, I read a rant from the other side about how this will bankrupt the insurers once everybody figures out that they can (a) pay the tax when they're well (b) pocket the substantial difference between that and actual premiums to self-finance for simple accident care and inexpensive procedures (c) pick up the insurance they can't be denied when they come down with an expensive illness or otherwise can't self-finance, and that the Democrats knew everyone would figure this out and it was all a plot from the beginning to bankrupt the insurance industry so we could get to a convenient introduction for single payer or even fully socialized medicine.

If so, I'd say this thread is strong evidence that the Democrats severely overestimated the intelligence of the American people. Here we are, the smarty-smarties of Metafilter, and we're wringing our hands about Obama intended from the beginning to sell us all out and enact giveaways to the insurance companies, instead of using our newfound leverage to bring them down.

In reality, there are probably some rules that discourage people from gaming the system. I bring it up, though, so you understand that there are other perspectives to look at this from. There are actually risks to the industry in doing the no-denial community rating thing.

It's true, there's a penalty for not carrying insurance. Something like that has to come with the agreement that you can't be turned down, because you don't get a risk pool that can effectively and fairly cover everyone without contributions from everyone. It would have been true with single payer as well, even if the extra costs hid in a different section of the nation's tax forms.

And the mandate to buy really isn't a new or unique imposition either, it's really merely just the formalization of an existing reality: the service of health insurance is already essential. The insurance industry already had a captive market. The law really didn't change that... though it did make some other changes, including provisions for more funding for people who can't make their premiums, the dictate that insurers have to do community rating and take all comers, and a bunch of other things that were not easy for the industry to swallow and are improvements over the current situation.

And what's more, while the industry is sure to continue to have a demand for their service -- just as they would have if we did nothing at all -- no individual insurer will have a legally guaranteed profit. Every insurer who wants your premium (or the federal money that's meant to make up the portion you can't cover) will have to convince you they should have it instead of someone else. They will have to compete. Now more than before, in fact, because this new thing where insurers have to do community rating? It means if you don't like your current insurer, you can find a new one, and tell your old one to go to hell (while you continue to pursue claims for the period you were covered by them).

I understand a degree of wariness. I'm not sure it's going to work out. There's a measure of truth in both the right wing screeds and the suspicion of the insurers. There is still room for both to act in bad faith and have the whole thing come apart. But there's plenty of room for progress as well.

When Obama says "I firmly believe that this woman, a former Health Insurance VP and Health Insurance Lobbyist with a guaranteed multimillion dollar job anytime she leaves government work and chooses to return to her former employers will enforce the law even if it means harm to her former and future employers" either he's lying or he's an idiot.

Or he's seeing things you don't from a industry-as-enemy vantage point. I'm reminded a little bit of kliuless' reference to Keynes personal letter to FDR the other day. And of Wendell Potter's statement that the insurance industry isn't populated with bad people, it's populated with terrible incentives. And of Peter Orszag's statement that the Obama administration has been trying to confront a credibility gap with the private sector. And of Nate Silver's repeated observations that Obama tends to govern from the center.

In any case, I'm going to wait until at least a few years after the policy actually kicks in before I make my judgments and declare defeat. If the policy gets a chance. Without some kind of surge of support, Democrats are likely to lose the House and the Republicans will try a budget showdown again. This time, though, they're gearing up to avoid the problems they bought in the mid 90's, by trying to take apart omnibus budgeting, and I think that even if they don't succeed, this will be popular enough they'll keep their political capital.

So, progressives who hate the recent HCR, take heart. If this is your biggest issue, and you wish the Democrats had failed at big progress rather than compromised at measured progress, then you're actually acting quite strategically in abandoning them, contrary to a lot of assertions here on the Blue. Throwing your support behind the Republicans will accomplish what you couldn't get the Democrats to do. Though there may be an unintended consequence or two.
posted by weston at 11:37 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


5. So you want President Palin?

Look Joe Beese, I'm on your side on much of this, and I agree Obama's been not nearly as much as a change from Bush as he should have been. But Palin WOULD be worse. We don't have a lot of choice here; we pretty much have to vote Democratic Party to stop far worse thing from occurring. I'm not happy about it either, but it's that or putting in Bush II, and say what you want about Obama, Bush WAS much worse.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2010


Without some kind of surge of support, Democrats are likely to lose the House

Eh, they didn't know what to do with it anyway.
posted by ryanrs at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's fun to say that, and to dump on congress as an institution*, but I think it's worth pointing out that the House has been the more progressive of the two chambers of the legislature. Heck, apropos to the topic of the thread, they actually passed a bill with a public option in it.

Somehow it's still looking like they may be the first institution the Democrats lose and we'll be turning it over to John Boehner's capable hands.

What message is getting sent here, again?

* I'm considering introducing a modest proposal every time people express disgust at congress. "Yes, we should probably just get rid of it. I think it's time to accept the legislative branch was simply a bad idea. Too much horsetrading and compromise when there's not outright deadlock. It's probably time to just let the executive or the judicial branch write the laws too. Much more efficient." If someone takes me seriously and it catches on, I apologize. It's really hard to tell how these things will go these days.
posted by weston at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2010


say what you want about Obama, Bush WAS much worse.

How? In essentially every area, he has continued or expanded Bush-era policies. From my perspective, Obama is MUCH worse, both because he's being even more egregious in his abuses of power than Bush was, and also because he's able to convince perfectly reasonable people that he isn't.

That's scary shit.
posted by Malor at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some people are pretty dang satisfied with the Obama presidency. Look at this smiling motherfucker. He got what he wanted, and he only had to wait two weeks after the election. I'm sure he'll be voting for Obama come November.
posted by ryanrs at 3:40 AM on October 8, 2010


I don't agree with Malor that Obama is the worst president. I do agree, however, that he has done unimaginable harm by putting the stamp of bipartisan approval on the worst evils of the Bush administration.

Whether or not he ever closes the illegal and unconstitutional "detention" facility at Guantanamo Bay is irrelevant. He has unwaveringly supported the Guantanamo mentality and done his best to regularize it and assure that future presidents will also have the power to throw anyone into a cage, forever, with no need for trials or charges merely by invoking the specter of terrorism. Obama himself has stated that there will never be trials in some cases, and that even if trials fail to find others guilty they will still be locked away forever. They call it "post acquittal detention", and if it were Bush advocating this every single person here would be up in arms. But since it's Obama it gets a pass, and that is damaging in a way that President Palin could never be.

Obama has sapped the will to protest, or to even see evil, from many Democrats and liberals and in so doing has changed the nature of our government vastly for the worse.

Thanks to Obama all who would torture know that they will never be prosecuted, while anyone who thinks of whistleblowing on torture knows that the government will relentlessly seek to imprison them. Torture went from being a Republican evil to a bipartisan evil and that is entirely Obama's fault.

By supporting, expanding on, and convincing a significant portion of Democrats to support the Bush era assaults on our core values and freedoms he has done harm that even President Palin could not.

I don't know if it is possible to recover from the harm Obama has inflicted on us. There was a time when at least one American political party stood against an imperial presidency, stood against torture, stood against illegal detention. That time has passed and it is because Obama stood for those things, and his undeniable charisma has lead many of my fellow liberals to decide that maybe all of those evils weren't so bad.

If it was bad when Bush did it then it must be bad when Obama does it, and threatening me with President Palin can't change that fact.

weston I suppose a lot of it comes down to the fact that having health insurance isn't the same thing as having health care. I don't care about the former, but I do care about the latter.

75% of people who declare bankruptcy due to medical reasons have health insurance.

Wastepaper.

Here we have a guy, with insurance, who had to beg on the internet to even get on a lung transplant list. Because the insurance wouldn't cover it unless he paid a crapload of money up front.

Wastepaper.

I've got "health insurance" (technically an HSA and some other garbage) from my employer. When I need to go to the doctor because I've got strep or some other simple ailement I tell them I don't have insurance. Know why? Because then I only pay $75 instead of $100.

When I need new glasses it entitles me to a whopping 10% discount at the optometrist. The coupon in the back of the phone book gives me 15% off.

Wastepaper.

Everybody doesn't need health insurance, that's just a way to pay for health industry yachts while still getting bankrupted by medical bills and paying for everything out of pocket. Everybody needs health care, and I don't see that coming from this law.

Or he's seeing things you don't from a industry-as-enemy vantage point.

If he doesn't see them as the enemy then he's dumber than Bush was. Rescission? Medical bankruptcy for insured people? Challenging every claim? Yup, they look like the enemy to me.

If he sees them as great people we can work with then he's a moron. They aren't interested in anything but expanding their profits, that's what for profit corporations exist to do and they evolve, in their own Lamarckian fashion, to do that with no regard for ethics, morality, or even the law. Corporations exist to make money, they're very simple in terms of behavior determination. It all comes down to cost/benefit analysis, if the benefits of a given course of action provide more profits than the costs of that course of action they take it, otherwise they don't. This isn't rocket surgery.

I don't even claim that they're evil, just amoral and not even slightly concerned with the well being of anyone or anything but their own profits. That doesn't make them evil, but it does make them the enemy if our well being would come at the expense of their profits, and it does.

Again, why should we believe for even one moment that Liz Fowler won't do her utmost to turn the law to health insurance industry advantage then bail out of the government and back to the cushy lifestyle and paycheck of a corporate executive? What do we have that offers us any assurance whatsoever that she won't do that? Her word? Obama's word?
posted by sotonohito at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Favourite that sotonohito. And I would mention something about one other of Weston's comments.

And of Wendell Potter's statement that the insurance industry isn't populated with bad people, it's populated with terrible incentives.

I don't think the insurance industry (or any industry as the current system has it ) is populated by people at all. In terms of the agents that act in the field, it is "populated" by legal constructs called corporations. The people who work for these corporations have ethics, but their ethics are no part of the function they perform for their employer.

Ethics are just not part of the construction of a corporation. Corporations don't consider "morals", they consider "legal ramifications." That's as close as they get.

What's funny (woolgathering now) is that we've been preaching to ourselves that government should run like a business, when really, in government's case, you very much DO want ethics to be one of the functions asked of an "employee." Maybe the biggest one.
posted by Trochanter at 11:07 AM on October 8, 2010


In my part of the world, Sotonohito, I found the doctor's charges to be the inverse of what you experienced. With insurance, the charge for an office visit to my doctor was billed at $80 to the insurer and $10 copay to me. Without insurance, it was $125 for the office visit. The big, big, HMO insurer tells the medical practice how much they will pay for such and so, and that is all they can bill. But they can subsidize those onerous negotiations by charging me more. That's why I took a job for far less than my experience would be valued at--I could not forgo insurance.

But an HSA is not health insurance--it is a savings plan that you enter into--as I'm sure you know--in order to have those funds put in before your employer takes out taxes.

I'm not trying to gainsay your arguments, just pointing out that it ain't the same everywhere in the US of A. My US Representative listened to us on health care (like you, I don't give a shit about health insurance when what I want is health care) and as someone who has lived with self-insured, under insured, corporately insured, and uninsured, I have long been an advocate of single payer. It's the only thing that makes sense. Health (care) insurance should be a nonprofit cooperative.

(But since I live in a cooperative, work for a cooperative, buy my food at a cooperative and bank with a cooperative, you might say that I have a prejudiced point of view).
posted by beelzbubba at 11:32 AM on October 8, 2010


Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald's (MCD) and Jack in the Box (JACK), won't be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees.

posted by Pope Guilty at 4:55 PM on October 9, 2010


I don't agree with Malor that Obama is the worst president

Note that Malor didn't say that, just that Obama was worse than either Clinton or Bush, his immediate predecessors. I make no claims as to who was actually worst, but I think Obama is decisively poorer than Bush because he does the exact same things, taken to even further extremes, while somehow managing to convince many/most liberals that everything is okay.

As far as I'm concerned, he is one scary motherfucker.
posted by Malor at 1:22 PM on October 12, 2010


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