The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Coakley Is A National Election

And yes, it is a referendum on Obama, and health care.  The more Coakley said she was the 60th vote for healthcare “reform”, the worse her numbers became.  The more she said “I’m Obama’s 60th vote” the worse her numbers became.  Yes, she took the election for granted at the beginning, but let’s be honest: who the hell thought the Democrats could lose Ted Kennedy’s seat?

What people are hearing; what they believe, is that the money for HCR is coming from cuts to Medicare, and not from cuts to the insurance industry, pharma or taxes on rich people.  And, actually, they’re right about this.  One might argue that the Medicare cuts are “fat” and “justified”  but people aren’t buying it.

Win or lose, if Democrats are in trouble even in Kennedy’s seat, then 2010 is looking grim indeed.  And while I have been surprised by how close this election has become, I am not surprised by the fact that 2010 is looking grim.  I have been warning since the stimulus bill (a horrible mess) that bad policy leads to bad outcomes which leads to voters hating the party in power.  I have been warning since Obama pushed through TARP that if Democrats refused to be populist, right wing populism would surge.

No matter the outcome, Obama needs to try fake populism (because we all know he won’t do the real thing) and needs to pray that his economic program, such as it is, produces better economic results than even his own economic advisers think likely.  This will be done by faux populist measures such as the bank levy, and on the economic front, by both using the unlimited guarantees given to Freddie and Fannie to reinflate the propery market and through military Keynesian stimulus from the Afghan escalation.

I suspect it’s going to be better than people think, but it’s still not going to be enough.  The 2010 elections are going to be ugly for Democrats.

Which, sadly, is exactly what they deserve.


An Observation On Haiti


Ummm, No


  1. Celsius 233

    How ironic; I just received a letter today (19th) that I’ll get Medicare in June when I turn 65. Medicare A is no charge, but if I want to add Medicare B, it’ll be $110/mos. Now why would I do that? My medical coverage here is #12/mos with no co-pay and medicine is NC. If I use my wife’s insurance, it’s free to me because she’s a civil servant.
    I live in a poor, barely emerging 3rd world country; why are it’s social programs are better than the richest country in the world? Sorry, rhetorical question.
    America is ruled by tyrants and populated by serfs. And America no longer fears it’s citizens; that was the mark of the end of any semblance of a democracy. RIP.

    P.S. Listen to this program on Democracy Now in honor of Dr. martin Luther King. Listen to what Dr. King sain more than 40 years ago. It’s stunning. And damning!

  2. Celsius 233

    Damn, please put in an edit feature. 🙂

  3. I don’t think that election has all that much to do with the politics of health care, really. Brown’s a wingnut, and if this were better known–say, if Coakley had started campaigning seriously early enough–it would probably have been a shoe-in for Coakley. Meantime, the money has been pouring in, and the smears are flying, not just on health care, but on everything that both sides can find.


  4. Ian Welsh

    Friend of mine is down there, making calls, and what she’s telling me is that it is very much about Obama and health care. A lot of Dems won’t even talk to her, those who will are angry about Obama’s failures, think HCR is a crock, even worse than MassCare and that the money for it will come from Medicare.

    They are, of course, right on all these things and the fact that Brown is a wingnut doesn’t alter the fact that Obama is a failure, HCR is a disaster, and natural Democratic voters are demoralized and/or angry.

  5. Valhalla

    I’m here on the ground in Mass., and it is very much about health care, and Democratic policies in general. The idea that Coakley ran a weak race is just an excuse/cover so Obama doesn’t have to admit that.

    Actually, it’s about health care plus: Brown started gaining on Coakley after she flipped on opposing health care because of the abortion restrictions. Her base is strongly pro-choice; that led to a loss of enthusiasm on her supporters’ side at the same time she visibly tied herself to the Democrats’ health care bill. Brown was quick to capitalize on that juxtaposition. She went from a 30-point lead on him to trailing, before and after.

  6. Marsha


    Won’t the bank levy just be passed on to customers of the banks in terms of new fees? I get new fee notices almost weekly right now, and every time I do, I blame it on the administration – so I’m not sure the bank levy will help the Dems.

    Honestly, it’s costing me so much money to use a bank (and I keep the requisite balances to avoid most fees) that I’m thinking my mattress might be a better alternative.

  7. Marsha:

    Have you tried a credit union or a local bank?

  8. BDBlue

    Coakley made a big mistake, IMO, in flipping on healthcare before the election. She was never going to be the sole dissenting Democrat as a newbie up for re-election in only two years, but I was surprised to see her flip so fast after securing the nomination given how well her pro-choice, anti-Stupak stance worked for her in the primaries and with her base (women). I suspect, but have no proof, that she flipped under pressure from the national party, whose support she thought she needed for the general election and two years from now. Because opposing HCR might’ve been good for her*, but it would’ve been terrible for the press storyline coming out of her election.

    * Really, she should’ve run against the D.C. Democrats. She’s a state-elected official, wasn’t an Obama person (even held her SD vote back), and is against a number of Obama policies like the surge in Afghanistan. I suspect if she’d run as an outsider to the left of Obama, something most DC Dems can’t do in November, she’d be winning easily. People are pissed and they’re going to take it out on the ruling party. This should surprise no one.

  9. Marsha

    My “problem” with credit unions, etc, is that my husband and I have accounts with our children who are in London and Denver….and we need to be able to move funds around with the click of a mouse. Trying to get new accounts established is tough because they are not “here” to prove that they exist (yes, they needed to be present and provide a pint of blood to establish the current accounts.)

  10. b.

    And your mattress is going to solve that how?

    I cannot fathom how this nation ever got itself founded in the first place.

  11. b.

    “she should’ve run against the D.C. Democrats”

    She should have run as herself. At this point, it is impossible to tell what she actually stands for, which makes her a perfect match for the DC-crats.

  12. hey ian, this is off topic but I don’t know how else to contact you (you should have a “tips” link)

    anyway, two things, first one I mentioned on another thread and don’t know if you saw it;

    about a year ago and not reported, (I only just found myself), jp morgan acquired washington mutual under most unusual circumstances;

    they were able to buy the assets without acquiring the debt, in other words, if I bought a 50,000 dollar bond for 49,000, jp morgan would have that 49,000 but washington mutual still carried the 50,000 dollar liability, rendering it not only worthless but un-attachable

    important stuff that needs to get the light of day

    the second thing that needs daylight is “cit”, the largest lender to small business is being forced out of business themselves by the administration

    I don’t know much more about either of these situations, found it out through conversations with some finaciers

    I hope this gets going, this is important info

  13. Lori

    I’d really like to see Coakley in DC, but, as a lower-income voter, I need, really need, the health care reform bill to fail. I don’t know what I would do if I lived in Massachusetts. I don’t even know what I’d prefer to see happen. I find it hard to believe that Brown could hold on to the seat in two years after the danger of HCR has passed, but then I didn’t think Bush get could beat Gore, either. What do I know?

    for one thing, I know that there is not room in my budget for the premiums and co-pays they think I can afford at my income, and that I’m scared to death that I’ll be so tied up trying pay my premiums, that I won’t be able to afford any health care because there will nothing left to pay off the deductible.

  14. Mad Hemingway

    Only the current crop of corporate Dems could make the GOP a contender again.

    The US political system is beyond hope and beyond help.

  15. Ian Welsh


    they take as much money as they can get anyway…

  16. Marsha


    My mattress will be nice and firm and I’ll sleep better because of it. :>)

  17. dougR

    Ian and everyone, I’m trying to think of a single instance in my memory in which a Democratic office-holder’s deliberately “centrist” (by which I mean conservative”) policies became widely unpopular, and the candidate thereupon saw the light of day and began running to the LEFT.

    Aren’t Obama’s/Coakley’s unfavorables going to push the party even farther to the right? Isn’t that kind of how politicians’ DNA runs these days?

    (I don’t have a point here, just asking.)

  18. Ian Welsh

    Can’t think of many. Gillibrand, maybe, though it’s not an exact fit.

    Fact of the matter is, I don’t think they really care if they win or lose, not really. The important job is to keep the elites in power, and that’s a bipartisan project.

  19. *stops biting tongue* IF Coakley loses (and I’m given to understand that it’s still an “if”), we might even have a chance to answer the “…and?” on HCR with which bill-killers have only had to answer hypothetically. Does punishment work? Is no bill *actually* better than the Senate bill? Who has been talking out of their asses? If I didn’t think it was irresponsible, I’d almost be cheering a Coakley defeat out of pure ornery curiosity. *resumes biting tongue*

  20. fledermaus

    “Well it’s a well run campaign, with the midget and broom and what not”

    I don’t think it is just the HCR bill, although that was going to be a tough sell that the dems really don’t appear willing or able to defend beyond “it’s better than nothing” – when really even that is debatable. They’ll point to the pre-existing condition figleaf ignoring that, although they have to sell you a policy, there are no controls on what it covers, co-pays, they can set your primium based on prior medical history, they can include annual caps on benefits. And those who are still fortunate enough to get insurance from their employer will see quality decline because of the tax and employers will stop covering others throwing them to the wolves in the individual market where they will be offered junk policies on a take it or leave it basis. And everyone making less than $12/hr will pay the full costs.

    To all of this the bill’s supporters respond not to the concerns above, but hand waive them away with “Better than nothing” or “you show me how you get 60 votes in the senate, smart guy” They have an excuse for everything I guess

  21. S Brennan

    Clearly Mandos,

    The Democratic leadership has already made up their minds on how they going to react and have said so publicly[see link], so your conjecture is either poorly informed, or another in your long chain of empty, either/or constructs in which you play the unknowing fool.

    Mandos bleating aside, the current bill is worse than no bill at all. This Bill stops reform at the state level and strengthens the hand of insurance and drug companies against reform in the future, so thinking this is something that can built upon is beyond naive.

    At his point, if the Democrats pass this bill…or anything remotely like this bill they can look forward to losing seats in 2010 and Congress and the White House in 2012. If that turns their wheels they should have another attempt at pleasing their corporate masters. As of today, almost 50% of Democratic voters say they will stay home next election. I’m guessing that folks just can’t get excited about voting for the only known phylum of mammalian invertebrates….

    As posted on my Facebook today:

    “Let’s be honest: Who would of thought the Democrats could lose Ted Kennedy’s seat one year ago?

    DLC’s now sees that as a strong possibility, they are exploring their back-up plans”:

  22. gtash

    As someone well outside Massachusetts and who has only paid attention in passing to this Senate race, I can tell you most people who observe from the distant perimeter like me think this is a rebuke of Obama–and that goes for his supporters as well as his detractors. If that is buying the RushBeckHannity meme, then consider it bought far and wide outside Massachusetts. If Obama cannot use his influence within the party to win a Kennedy-held seat, then he must be weak—not just centrist, or corporatist, or whatever other political label. Weak. And he will be hard put to spin this perception away.

  23. Ian Welsh

    They are going to shove through HCR. Punishment is going to require kicking Obama out in 2012, after brutalizing Dems in 2010.

    And by require I mean “this is going to happen”, not “this should happen.”

    This entire group of Democratic leadership needs to be swept out. And they will be.

  24. Normally, I try not to be a “worse is better” guy, since that means a lot of wrecked lives, but in this case, I can almost see a Brown win as being a good thing, in that the Republicans are “peaking too early.” We all know the rightward swing is coming, and I guess I’d rather start dealing with it now than later when it’s, well… a bit premature.

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