It Depends on What Your Definition of Change Is

17 Aug


At Netroots Nation, I became the cynical asshole on health care reform. So much so, that I think people were starting to avoid me.  As I listened to all the speeches and read the daily news, it seemed that Obama Administration officials were slowly and steadily preparing the liberal base for a sell out move.  Here’s a couple of thoughts on the matter I posted on Twitter throughout the weekend:

the underlying realization and creeping disappointment that Obama sold out the Netroots is palpable at 9:32 PM Aug 13th

It’s time to reorganize as liberals and force the progressive change we voted for. There’s a reason why I didn’t vote for Hillary 9:35 PM Aug 13th

prediction: In 45 days, Obama will sign a toothless health care bill with no public option but promises of increased “competition” 9:52 AM Aug 15th

Listening to Sr. Obama Adviser Valerie Jarrett and it seems like she’s here to soften the landing for the final BS compromise bill. 9:53 AM Aug 15th

And then I wake up on Sunday to read the news and watch the pandering/uncritical morning shows to find a theme developing amongst the Obama talking heads

President Barack Obama’s administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run health insurance as part of his ambitious health care proposal. Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives. Such a concession is likely to enrage his liberal supporters but could deliver Obama a much-needed win on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is ”not the essential element” of the administration’s health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory on the showdown.

Sure, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gave a vaguely different statement on another morning show, but he’s the outlier when it comes to the month-long, hint-filled narrative from the administration.

You might remember the Obama Health Plan during the campaign, the centerpiece of which was a public healthcare option for small business and individuals.

– Affordable and high-quality universal coverage through mix of private and expanded public insurance.

– Prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

– Require all children to have health insurance.

– Require employers to offer “meaningful” coverage or contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the public plan; small businesses will be exempt from this requirement.

– Create a new public plan so that small businesses and individuals without access to other public programs or employer-based coverage could purchase insurance.

It’s a good thing Obama didn’t comfortably win a national election 10 months ago on that platform!  Didn’t America firmly reject a market based private insurance solution as put forth by John McCain and the RNC?  Yup.

The Obama healthcare platform was shared by the entirety of the DNC, which was swept into a massive majority in the House and a near filibuster proof majority in the Senate by a party base starved for healthcare reform.

After six months of right wing asshattery and obstructionism from bullshit DLC “third way” blue dog democrats, the President is prepared to roll over? Seriously?

He blew the overwhelming majority of his political capital for an issue on which he was never non-negotiable? He rode the public option down 20 points in the polls only to give it up?  He asked his Congressional Democrats to stand up and fight for the public option only to leave them twisting in the wind?  They put their seats at risk on this issue and they were forced to listen to screaming idiots at their fundraisers/town halls only to have the President turtle up like the Bills in a Super Bowl? Come on!

Obama was never able to establish a clear agenda and message on healthcare.  Paying heed to lessons learned from the Clinton Administration’s failed top-down healthcare reform act, Obama asked Congress to take the lead.  Not surprisingly, they fumbled the ball and we have four bills floating around the house all with different goals and means. He needed to take a more hands-on role in Congressional planning and he should have been more forceful on the stump explaining what it meant.  Instead, he allowed the Republicans to define the parameters of the debate and that’s why we’re still talking about Sarah Palin’s “death panel” notion a week after she shat it all over Facebook.

So, yes, I’m bitter.  And, I’m angry.  The “public option” WAS the compromise position for the Democratic base and if the President caves on it, I’m not sure where to go next.  It will be at least another 20 years before we get another shot at this.  It’s why we need to force the public option with our Congressmen.  They need to hear from the supporters, not just the whackjobs protesting esoteric bullshit from street curbs.

If you support a public option, call Higgins, Massa, Maffei, Slaughter and Lee and tell them, emphatically. Call Gillibrand and Schumer and tell them to whip their fellow Dems into shape. Attend the town hall meetings of Massa and Maffei and let them know where you stand.  There’s still a chance at the public option and it will be up to those who want it to make it happen.  Clearly, the President isn’t non-negotiable on this, but we are.

Let’s make it happen.

13 Responses to “It Depends on What Your Definition of Change Is”

  1. Brian Castner August 17, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    Uh, yeah. I think I’ve been saying this for a while. Obama clearly never learned about, or was bored by, how the sausage making works cuz he was only really in the Senate 2 years. So he outsourced the work to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. Its time for the Dems to man-up and just pass what they’ve been complaining about for 20 years. Otherwise, it just confirms my (and conservatives) opinion that libs and Dems are more interested in bitching than governing.

    But you should be happy that Dean said this morning on Morning Joe that he thinks this is a ploy to get anything out of the Senate, a public option out of the House, and then “Reconcilliation” will slip it back in. We’ll see.

  2. mike hudson August 17, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    “prediction: In 45 days, Obama will sign a toothless health care bill with no public option but promises of increased “competition” 9:52 AM Aug 15th” your prediction is correct, chris. universal health care and getting us out of iraq were the centerpieces of the obama campaign. i never trusted him on health care, as it seemed he was pushed into his pre-election position by clinton during the debates. he’s the president and his party controls both houses of congress and he can’t get a fucking bill through? and americans are still dying in iraq even as the unwinnable war in afghanistan escalates.

  3. Ethan August 17, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    I’m as pissed off (but completely unsurprised) as you, but I don’t think Brian’s analysis of the “why” holds any water. Democrats prefer to bitch than govern? Only a winger would posit such a dismissive, condescending, and inapt explanation. Obama is (potentially) “bored by” the political details? Um, sure…

    What it mainly comes down to is really that Dems are as bought-off as Republicans, and those that do the buying off can also control the media, and so real change is prevented and their status quo is maintained. Until or unless we ever break the corporate dominance of our government & media, we’re their puppets. And I gotta tell you, since our government now hires mercenaries to protect their own interests on our own soil (see Blackwater in New Orleans post-Katrina), well… you better hope the generals in the Pentagon still give a damn about the Constitution more than lining their own pockets like the pols do.

    Canada… still a short swim away!

  4. Mike In WNY August 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Obama has never put forth a good argument why the public option is a good thing or how it will be funded. In a country that is beyond broke, that is unacceptable, just like his plan.

  5. Starbuck August 17, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    “It’s time to reorganize as liberals and force the progressive change we voted for.”

    Isn’t a big difficulty about “forcing” liberal change the reality of what Gallup has been reporting? In June they reported a 2:1 ratio of conservatives to liberals in the U.S. electorate.

    Now today they reported conservative majorities to varying degrees in all 50 states:

    PRINCETON, NJ — The strength of “conservative” over “liberal” in the realm of political labels is vividly apparent in Gallup’s state-level data, where a significantly higher percentage of Americans in most states — even some solidly Democratic ones — call themselves conservative rather than liberal.

    … Despite the Democratic Party’s political strength — seen in its majority representation in Congress and in state houses across the country — more Americans consider themselves conservative than liberal.

    While Gallup polling has found this to be true at the national level over many years, and spanning recent Republican as well as Democratic presidential administrations, the present analysis confirms that the pattern also largely holds at the state level.

    Conservatives outnumber liberals by statistically significant margins in 47 of the 50 states, with the two groups statistically tied in Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

    • Alan Bedenko August 17, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

      Isn’t a big difficulty about “forcing” liberal change the reality of what Gallup has been reporting?

      You’re right. It’s time to make “conservative” the bad word for the next two decades.

  6. Starbuck August 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    “It’s time to make “conservative” the bad word for the next two decades.”

    Haven’t there already been a lot of efforts to do that?

  7. Mike In WNY August 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Perhaps it is time to embrace your roots and return to “classical liberalism.”

  8. Brian Castner August 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    @ Ethan: I think the “Dems are bought” deal is overblown because the R’s are bought but were willing to pass all sorts of partisan legislation. Only Social Security and Immigration stalled like this. In defense of my wingerness, I do think Obama is bored by (or dismissive of) the political infighting it takes to make a bill. He’s more concerned with the vision and grand ideas, but why else would he outsource the work? I say again: if you have 60 Dem votes in the Senate, and a 70-odd advantage in the House, and a Dem President, and can’t pass a bill central to your party’s platform for 20 years, that is governance FAIL. How long does it take R’s to pass tax cuts after they change administrations, without the same vote advantage. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  9. Brian Castner August 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    One more thing: Dems have been saying for years that R’s complaints about the biased media is whinning, untrue, and unfair. Now that this bill is stalled, what do they say? Ethan: you sound like Rush complaining the media has been bought!

  10. STEEL August 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    You can never really win id you play like you are afraid to lose. The Republicans mad Obama afraid to lose

  11. Jackstraw August 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    “Didn’t America firmly reject a market based private insurance solution as put forth by John McCain and the RNC? ” Nope…they voted against George Bush and then suprise they got the uberbush. More war, more spending, more torture, and a closer relationship between business and government. Ahhhh…change.

  12. mike hudson August 21, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    friday 8/21.09…george stephanopoulos reports “only 49 percent of Americans are confident that he’ll ‘make the right decisions for the country’s future’ — down from 60 percent in April.”

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