Everyone CTFO

22 Dec

Ezra Klein tackles the progressives’ Obama’s-betrayal narrative:

Thanks to the magic of Google, it’s easy enough to revisit the plan (pdf) Obama campaigned on in light of the plan that seems likely to pass. And there are, to be sure, some differences. The public option did not survive the Senate. The individual mandate, which Obama campaigned against, was added after key members of Congress and the administration realized that the plan wouldn’t function in its absence. Drug reimportation was defeated, and a vague effort to have government pick up some catastrophic costs was never really mentioned.

But the basic structure of the proposal is remarkably similar.


But whether you love the Senate bill or loathe it, whether you’re impressed by Obama’s effort or disappointed, it is very hard to argue that the bill Congress looks likely to pass is fundamentally different from the approach Obama initially advocated. “The Obama-Biden plan both builds on and improves our current insurance system,” the campaign promised, and on that, for better or for worse, they’ve delivered. You can debate whether Obama should have lashed himself to such an incremental and status-quo oriented approach, but you cannot argue that he kept it a secret.

As I’ve been saying all week, this is a positive change that lays the groundwork for future improvement. Taking this first, arguably incomplete, step towards health insurance reform, where consumer protections are implemented, and the notion that all Americans have access to insurance is implemented, is critically important. It is a massive sea-change, regardless of whether it has a public option in it at this time.

So, not only is the macro reform incomplete, but so is the legislation itself. Hissy fits are unbecoming, and while we should certainly be working to reduce the influence of campaign cash on legislators, and we should be ensuring that congresspeople are providing us with their “honest services”, we have to work within the system we have now to get this huge and positive – yet incremental – change.

10 Responses to “Everyone CTFO”

  1. Ike December 22, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    The health care bill as constructed is unconstitutional…Largely because an insurance mandate is unconstitutional under both a commerce clause and taxing power analysis…

    under the commerce clause because the supreme court is unlikely to find that the inaction of not buying health care is an “economic activity” that can be regulated because in the aggregated it affects interstate commerce. (think the case about the farmer growing wheat for personal consumption). If possessing a gun wasn’t an economic activity allowing a federal law to prohibit possession within 1,000 feet of a school, and violence against women wasn’t an economic activity allowing a federal law…then non-possession of health care isn’t an economic activity.

    Finding otherwise effectively destroy any limitation on congressional power, as every decision to do or not do something, in aggregate, creates the markets in whcih we all live our lives. The supreme court has said several times that a general police power is outside the federal governments enumerated powers, and finding 5 votes to say otherwise on the current court is a pipe dream. Frankly, its a bit of a surprise that all the lawyers in Congress would have thought otherwise.

    Under the taxing clause this bill faces no better. (although remember, according to obama, this is NOT a tax increase, or even a tax of any kind…i believe the preferred phrase is “shared responsibility penalties, a phrase which just sounds like slimy doubletalk)

    The way the bill is currently structured, it places a tax on all persons, except those who fall under one of several exceptions, and is therefore a capitation tax. The constitution requires that all capitation taxes be even distributed based on population…one man one vote; one man one tax level.This differs in kind from an income tax, which taxes income, not individuals.

    The mandate excludes taxpayers with income under 100 percent of the poverty line, individuals for whom the required contribution would exceed 8 percent of their income, religious objectors, incarcerated individuals, and anyone determined to have suffered a hardship regarding their capability to obtain coverage, as determined in the discretion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. While it is common to carve out exceptions like these in the context of the individual income tax, the Constitution forbids these distinctions in capitation or direct taxes insofar as they would upset apportionment on the basis of census population, which they undoubtedly will.

    There are constitutional methods of constructing this health care bill, but they force congress to be honest and levy taxes, not force other people to purchase the goods with their own dime.

  2. Ethan December 22, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Is there such a thing as a minuscule sea-change?

  3. mike hudson December 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    my favorite part is that none of the stuff that might affect me or those i’m paying health care for will even take effect for four years. that should give the insurance companies plenty of time to jack rates up and get rid of as many sick people as possible, much like the credit card companies did in the wake of obama’s weak sister bank regulations that were supposed to make things better for americans after they bailed out that industry.

    shorter “health care reform”: obama gifts insurance industry with 30 million new customers.

  4. Jon Splett December 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    The only good that could come out of this bill would be for every progressive voter who just got (predictably) sold out by the Democrats to leave the party. After all, every centrist douchebag seems to be telling them how this was always Obama’s plan and they were stupid to think we’d get real reform. Why should they keep voting for Democrats when Democrats never deliver on anything at all?

    If the Tea Party nutjobs keep it up with their crazy ass bullshit, there’s a good chance they’ll form their own party and split the Republicans. If that happens, progressives who actually give a fuck need to do the same thing. Organize a party and break away from the pandering corporate centrist fucks who not only sold out health care reform, but have the nerve to pretend like we’re all too stupid to see it and that mandating we pay their corporate masters is an acceptable method of universal coverage.

    The two-party system is what allows for this kind of bullshit to go on but if both major parties succeed in collapsing and losing their base at the same time, we could finally be seeing the beginning of it’s fall. Two extra parties playing spoiler in 2012 cancels out the ‘A vote for X is really a vote for Y’ problem because people on both sides of the aisle will be doing it. 

    So I say, keep fucking over your base Democrats. Keep us in Iraq and Afganistan. Keep talking about gay rights without actually giving out any. Keep telling us you’re going to close GitMo and stop torturing while never acting on it. And by all means, keep pretending you’re going to make seeing a doctor realistic for those of us too broke to afford it now. Hopefully in three years time, you’ll have pissed enough of your base off that it loses it’s battered wife syndrome and stops showing up to the polls for you.  

  5. Ethan December 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    If you buy Lind’s analysis, our intractable difference on this and other issues arises because you are a former-Republican-kind-of-Democrat while I am, apparently, more of the New Deal mold. Sadly, if his analysis is right, the current Democratic party will probably eventually implode like the last iteration of the Republicans did. In another 20 years, you can rejoin your natural ideological allies on the right!

  6. Ethan December 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    A nice summary of Obama’s inability to lead on this and other issues here. (criticism from the left, natch)

    • Ethan December 23, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

      Sorry, that’s here, for those legions of y’all who just can’t stop following my links.  

  7. Ethan December 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    more on the meta-narrative:
    The title of Herbert’s column is “A Less Than Honest Policy.”  The same can be said of the principal tactics used by the bill’s proponents, who have relied far more on the old reliable, trite derision and demonization of The Angry, Purist Left than they have on honest discussions.

    And to be explicit: you, Alan, have used “trite derision.. ” &c.  In, e.g., the title of this post even.  Ezra, too. Hissy-fits! 


  1. Insurance Is The Problem | WNYmedia.net - December 24, 2009

    […] Senate finally passed a healthcare reform bill today.  Alan suggests that it’s a move in the right direction, and that progressives should support it (even if it requires holding our noses): As I’ve been […]

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