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Monday, January 25, 2010

Can We Get Some Leadership Here?

As the healthcare reform fight goes all haywire, Democrats are surprisingly united. Not in the recognition that 45,000 people will die without coverage this year and the next and the next unless something is done. And not in the fighting the leading cause of bankruptcy -- medical bills -- in America. No, Democrats are all lined up in blaming the special election in Massachussets for derailing healthcare reform. The media has joined in, coming just short of saying that Republicans, with a 41 seat minority, now control Washington. Barely short, because the consensus position is that Democrats have to do what Republicans say now. See, they have 41 seats and the founders envisioned a nation where the side with the fewest votes wins... I guess. Call it "bass-ackward democracy."

Of course, I'll never get tired of pointing out that reform was supposed to be finished in August, but that Harry Reid greenlighted a snipe hunt for Republican votes by Sen. Max Baucus. This went pretty much the way anyone who'd been paying attention expected it to, with Baucus's bill finally passing out of his committee with zero Republican votes. It's tempting to drop this all on those two thin senatorial shoulders, but the truth may be that this wasn't a strategic blunder by two incompetents in the upper chamber, but an institutional failure within the Democrat party as a whole.

Washington Post:

The Obama legislative agenda was built around an "advancing tide" theory.

Democrats would start with bills that targeted relatively narrow problems, such as expanding health care for low-income children, reforming Pentagon contracting practices and curbing abuses by credit-card companies. Republicans would see the victories stack up and would want to take credit alongside a popular president. As momentum built, larger bipartisan coalitions would form to tackle more ambitious initiatives.

"Did the Obama team really imagine at the outset that Republicans would acquiesce to the Obama agenda in order to bask in Obama’s reflected glory and popularity?" Greg Sargent wondered yesterday. "...Amazing, if true."

Maybe, maybe not. It wouldn't be the first time that a major newspaper got it wrong or that hypothesis was reported as fact. But the administration's hands-off approach -- even as Baucus and Reid wandered down their idiotic road -- at least suggests there may be some truth to it. The White House may not have stepped in and set things right because they, like Baucus and Reid, thought they hadn't gone wrong.

Sargent also reports what it is Republicans would accept. "Put the CSPAN cameras in the room as the President said," Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said on Meet the Press this weekend. "You start with junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. Interstate competition among insurance companies. And many of my members would be lookin’ -- would -- would be willing to look at equalizing the tax code. Right now, if you’re a corporation and you provide insurance -- for your employees, you get to deduct it on your corporate tax return. But if you’re an individual on the individual market, you don’t. Step by step to work on the cost problem. That’s what Republicans are willing to do." So, some not completely bad ideas and some completely bad ideas. Anything beyond that, no dice. No ban on denials based on pre-existing conditions, no subsidies for low-income people, no new regulations (in fact, further deregulation), and no mechanism at all to pay for any of it. Few, if any, uninsured people would be insured under this... I guess you have to call it a "plan."

That's what Republicans are willing to do.

"[I]t doesn't have to be on the president's shoulders," writes Steve Benen. "As we talked about yesterday, Congress is its own branch, with its own leaders. It's in members' interests to get this done. Congress should realize the importance of delivering on the promise of reform -- whether it gets instructions from the White House or not should be irrelevant."

Maybe, but "should" and "will" are two different words for a reason. Anyone who expects Harry Reid to snap out of it and start leading isn't really betting on the right horse. The White House is going to have to step in here, twist some arms and stroke some egos, and take up leadership. If that means actually going to war with the Senate majority leader and boneheaded liberals in the House, then war it should be.

Under the marvelous leadership this reform has enjoyed so far, it's going around in circles. Worse, those circles are around the drain. Turns out someone actually has to steer these sort of things.


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M said...

Republicans have no plan for healthcare insurance reform.

These aren't some new and improved republicans, and tea baggers aren't "new." They're the "silent majority" and angry white-faced operatives that shut down voting in Florida in 2000 all cut from the same cloth.

Demonstrating misplaced anger at democrats is nothing new for this segment of the population. They do it at abortion clinics all the time.

And these Republicans are the same two-faced frauds that voted lockstep to raid the treasury for Halliburton and Exxon, outsource jobs to China, rape the environment, cut taxes for the wealthy, and saddle the country with 1.2 trillion dollar debt with no way of paying for it.

What did it get us?

Resentment around the world? Fear and Division at home? A Great Recession?

Their policies are demonstrably and verifiably dangerous for the stability of not only America, but humanity.

But pay no attention to the past 30 years of Reaganomics and Alan Greenspan philosophy, or Neocon foreign policy and Evangelicalized Department of Justice and military. Nevermind that they turned Departments of Energy and the EPA over to anti-environment/pro-corporate lobbyists and career polluters, or that the Department of Labor was anti-union/pro-globalization. Consumer protections? The republican party hates you fucking people. That's the whole driving point of "tort reform." They hate the working class. Income gaps have exploded under their guidance. They practically invented the "working poor."

And the Supreme Court. The same court that voted to recognize and protect constitutional rights for corporations-- is the same court that ruled against the kid wearing the "bong hits for Jesus" sign.

For the Republican party-- for those judges alone-- they should be shamed and banished from life and death decision making.

You look around. GM says they'll be paying back the government by June. The big banks are handing out bonuses and are expected to repay much of the TARP.

What's left to gripe about for the GOP and idiot Independents whose arms and minds Republicans have been twisting for a little over a year with hyper-insane bullshit?

The stimulus?

The same stimulus that's helping to build and sustain our infrastructure after decades of republican party philosophy of neglect and indifference and recklessly misplaced priorities?

It's going to take a little longer to clean up after 30 years of GOP philosophy, let alone the Bush years riding on the backs of the GOP congress during the Clinton years where they spent millions sniffing through garbage only to emerge with a stain on a blue dress.

That's where their perverted priorities lie and that's where they're coming from.

M said...

Republicans lost several American cities to their philosophy. Manufacturing cities like Detroit and poorer cities like New Orleans. That's not to mention the the surveillance state they led to reality from a point of fear, or the industrial prison complex they serve as the party of "Freeeeedom!" They used 9/11 to launch the careers of several prominent republicans, and they almost lost New York city in the first place.

And Republicans in Iraq. After they bombed, they invaded. Then they sucked life and treasury dry trying to correct their mistake and cover the criminality.

With no shame and revisionist history as their guide, they continue to pretend that we're in danger if we don't re-elect that whole ideology in action.

The largest middle class tax cut in history takes effect this year. Republicans still want those tax cuts to go to the wealthiest 2%. They still want to outsource jobs. They still want to rape the environment. They still don't give a damn that you're bankrupt from your medical bills(even with insurance)or that you can't get affordable coverage if you have a preexisting condition. They don't give a damn about budgets and deficits. Cheney said that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." The GOP was on board for all the war profiteering and degradation of mankind as long as the rich weren't being asked to pay their fair share. Warren Buffet said that because of Republican party philosophy in action, he paid lower taxes than his secretary.

What the fuck is wrong with those people who think this is some new and improved republican party pointing fingers in the wrong direction? If they really believe that the same clowns, McConnel, Boehner, Inhoffe, et al, will be the ones to deliver the country to security and prosperity?

Where's the evidence that this is a reliable fact? Where's the evidence the Democrats can't turn this around?

We've had over 30 years to witness the job loss, income gaps, anti-union war on the working class, and several bubbles that blew up in our faces.

Republicans prey upon uncertainty and ignorance with a smiling off-to-glory-faced sales pitch of projecting all their shortcomings onto their Democratic and liberal opponents.

Not really all that clever, but it seems to be working on the same people that voted George W. Bush into office.

It shouldn't be that difficult to point out the failures and bigotry in GOP philosophy. They've had plenty of time to put the world on their footing and it has only weakened us.

But after a whole year of a democratic presidency, the world is going to come to an end if we don't get them out of there and return immediately to the policies that we know for a fact don't work?

That's one hell of a idiotic and disproportionate calculation.

It's well past time for Democrats to go the offensive.

They probably thought that majorites would speak for themselves and the country would give them time to get this ocean liner turned around.

Never turn your back on the GOP and their ability to harness the power of mass-ignorance.

They hate everyone who isn't "conservative" and would rather you die in the street than offer a hand in undermining the very policies they enacted and supported for so long.

Democrats need to communicate this better with unity and facts.

It shouldn't be this difficult or debatable.

vet said...

On a point of detail - mathematical, or possibly anotomical: Harry Reid and Max Baucus, between them, would surely have four thin senatorial shoulders.

Wisco said...


Typo or brain fart or something. I meant to make two possessive.