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


Ok, enough.

Enough, Enough, Enough.

After reading this compilation by Thomas Schaller of various leading “progressives” views on whether the Senate bill should be killed or not, I am beyond disgusted at many of the putrid, spineless, stupid quislings who call themselves progressives.

Just… enough.

Exhibit A:

On MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” Joan Walsh derides Joe Lieberman but compares progressives who want to kill the entire Senate bill to people who voted for Nader over Al Gore in 2000.

Thank you Joan “lesser evil” Walsh.  That election has been trotted out ever since to justify voting for Democrats no matter what they do.  It’s good to know that your support is completely unconditional.  Of course, perhaps it might have helped if Al Gore and Joe Lieberman had actually fought.  Buses full of union members and other demonstrators were willing to go, and Al Gore, the “good man” didn’t want to risk that flaring into violence.  So he told them not to roll, and the Supreme Court, seeing that no one gave a damn, gave the election to Bush 5-4.  The result was, literally, hundreds of thousands of dead people.  Why?  Because a good man wasn’t willing to fight.  Just like you, a “good woman”, I’m sure. Just like Democratic progressive in Congress.  If you won’t fight, and the other side will, the other side will always get what they want.  But people like you, who belong to the party of wimps, never understand that, do you?

Exhibit B, Ezra Klein:

And as I spent yesterday arguing, it has a tendency to overshadow the lives in the balance. You can choose your estimate. The Institute of Medicine’s methodology says 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn’t have health-care coverage. A recent Harvard study found the number nearer to 45,000. Since we talk about the costs of health-care reform over a 10-year period, may as well talk about the lives saved that way, too. And we’re looking, easily, at more than a hundred thousand lives, to say nothing of the people who will be spared bankruptcy, chronic pain, unnecessary impairment, unnecessary caretaking, bereavement, loss of wages, painful surgeries, and so on.

Why people think Ezra is capable of understanding policy has always been beyond me.  He can’t, and he never has been able to.  The bill will not save all of those lives.  What the bill does is force people to buy insurance who don’t have it right now.  Force them.  The standard shitty insurance (the silver plan) is 70% of actuarial value, which means the company has to spend 70% of premiums on health care.  And it’s not capped.  So if you get seriously ill, you blow through the cap, and can’t afford the care which would save you life.  I don’t know how many people the bill will save, but it’s not 220,000 or 450,000 over ten years.  Anyone who thinks  it is is incompetent.

Exhibit C, Jonathan Cohn, who writes for the New Republic  (which should tell you everything you need to know anyway):

Is health care reform without a public option still worth passing? Unequivocally, unambiguously yes.

The case for is simple and straightforward: 30 million additional people, maybe more, will have health insurance. Many more who have insurance will see their coverage become more stable. The ability of insurers to exclude people based on pre-existing conditions will diminish significantly, if not disappear. And that’s on top of a host of delivery reforms which should, in combination, help make medical care less expensive over time. The bill could be much better, for sure, but to argue that it’s worse than nothing you have to make the case that nothing will somehow lead to more progress in some reasonable frame of time.

30 million more people will be FORCED to buy insurance, which many of them can’t afford.  If they could afford insurance, many of them would already have it.  What part of FORCED don’t these idiots understand?  Let me repeat: Forced, Forced, Forced.

Yes, Jonny, it is worse than nothing, because it will push many of these people over the edge financially in order to give them insurance which is capped, and which, therefore when they get really sick, will not save their life anyway.  Not just a moron, but a moral imbecile.

Angela Glover Blackwell, of some group called Policylink is the only person who swings for not killing the bill and gets some bat on the ball:

Politics is the art of the possible. It rarely gives us everything we want — and often it doesn’t even give us what we need. The health-care debate has been a case study in compromise — alternating between hopeful and infuriating and back again.

Oh puke. If someone tells me once more about the art of the possible, instead of the art of the necessary I am going toss my cookies all over them next time I meet them at some conference.

But we are still left with a proposal that takes several important, relatively moderate steps toward a more insured, healthier nation. The protections against rescission and rejections for “pre-existing conditions” should help curb the most egregious abuses of the insurance industry. And subsidies for low-income people will help bring millions of struggling Americans into the health insurance system for the first time.

Ok, that’s at least an argument that makes some sense.  I don’t think it’s worth it, because again, the insurance they’re being forced to buy is shitty 70% actuarial value with caps it won’t save their bloody lives, and may well drive them into bankruptcy, because the subsidies are inadequate, but at least she mentions recissions and pre-existing conditions: virtually the only major things the bill does right.

With Progressives Like These…

Who needs Republicans or Conservadems? Honestly, mode one is always, “well, if someone is going to give me one cent, that’s better than no deal no matter what I give up in return!”  Plop these fools down in a 3rd world bazaar with $1,000 dollars and they’d be begging for food by the end of their first week.

As Stephanie Taylor says:

When Democratic leaders refuse to fight, they can’t then ask progressives to cave with them. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is continuing to fight for the best health care bill possible, and we’re intent on holding Democrats’ feet to the fire. But we need to think very seriously about whether there will be a moment when it is clear that the bill does more harm than good–we need to be prepared to kill the bill.

Part of being a great negotiator is being able to walk away. (emphasis mine).

No more Mr. Nice Blogger. The idiots calling for surrender, meekly begging for table scraps, are not due any pretend respect or collegial refusal to call them out for their stupidity and cowardice.


Citygroup Roulette


Notes on the Moral and Political Degradation of America


  1. OK. Say you walk away. And?



  2. I mean, my criticism of the critics of the critics of the critics is that, frankly, it’s all just empty talk. There’s no getting around the Nader criticism. Because it is not a negotiation.

  3. Ian Welsh

    Yes it is.

  4. No, it isn’t. There is no table. There are no parties, or there’s only one. The positions are mutually exclusive. There’s nothing to negotiate about. There never has been.

  5. Ian Welsh


  6. At least in a third world bazaar (I’ve been to one, and seen relatives negotiate) there’s actually a range of positions to which both sides expect to accede.

    Joe Lieberman is right. Any compromise is setting a date for the death of the private insurance industry as we know it.

  7. Ian, Bless You for your Courage! You know, the (almost) oxymoronic kind of Courage – the MORAL type!
    Here in Aspen, the chic Aspen Institute has denigerated into little better than a mutual admiration society for the Plutocrats – the likes of “T Boone” Pickens, “Pete” Peterson, Soros, Madeline Not-So-Bright (sorry, Ian, I just couldn’t help myself!), Gore and of course, our “1st black president” (per Toni Morrison) Bubba-boy Clinton. If I hear these bastards repeat their favorite mantra one more time (“please, don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the good”), I don’t know what I’ll do!!!

  8. If it really is a negotiation, there is a position of mutual benefit. When labour negotiates with management, management still expects to profit from the work. The question is only how much.

    So if this is really a negotiation, how much are you willing to concede to the insurance industry? Much of their profit are you going to guarantee?

  9. Ian Welsh

    I’ve been to them, and I have negotiated at them. If you are a westerner, the initial price leaps upwards. A smart negotiator knows that. But if you took the starting price, the word would get around the bazaar and they would keep increasing the prices, taking the sucker for all they can.

    The bottom line for the President is that he must have a bill. The bottom line for the insurance companies is they want a mandate. The bottom line for Pharma is they want a ban on re-importation and various other goodies. All it takes is ONE progressive Senator to threaten those bottom lines OR a block of progressive house members. Maybe that will kill the bill, maybe it will lead to someone other than progressives making concessions. Not doing so WILL mean that the only people making concessions are progressives.

    As Glenn Greenwald notes, the idea that this bill is different from Barack Obama wanted is preposterous. He never, ever, fought for anything that isn’t still in the bill. He has never used his bully pulpit, he told Reid not to try and strongarm Lieberman (for example, his comittee leadership could be removed) and so on.

    Furthermore, the majority of a good bill could be done in reconciliation, which needs only 51 votes. The remainder of a good bill, you put in with the next military appropriation.

    Negotiation is possible. But only if anyone is willing to stand up, and potentially walk away from the table.

    This really is negotiation 101. God, I used to know a professor who taught negotiation. This is fundamental. Basic. And I refuse to believe that not a single progressive Senator knows how to negotiate.

  10. Ian Welsh

    You don’t have to concede shit to the insurance industry. Give pharma and the doctors what they want, and that will be enough, certainly if you go through reconciliation. Then gut pharma or the doctors later. Pharma and the insurance industry are not friends. In fact insurance companies hate pharma.

  11. b.

    How about this idiocy?

    “Lieberman might have backstabbed everyone even if we didn’t say we liked the compromise, but publically stating our support does not appear to have helped.
    Don’t you seriously wonder if publically opposing this bill is actually the best way for progressives to pass the bill? Or that supporting the bill now is the best way to defeat it? When one of your roles in the party ecosystem is to be publically humiliated, this sort of frustrated paranoia seems warranted. ”

    It’s like Klein crossed with Slashdot. “What do you think?”

  12. b.

    “Because a good man wasn’t willing to fight.”

    Bollocks. Gore picked Lieberman. Neither was not a good man. With all the head start he had, he blundered downwards enough for the Supremos to get away with selecting Bush, and he got lucky there were idiots out there blaming it on Nader. Gore 2000 was the embodiment of the lesser evil, and that he wasn’t “willing to fight” was a logical and inevitable conclusion to the sordid Clinton years, not a surprise. Gore’s agency was absent from the start: the Party ran him, not vice versa.

  13. joe in oklahoma

    great post Ian!
    i am sick and f’ing tired of people saying that this is our only chance to reform healthcare for at least the next 20 years! why would that be?
    are Dems PLANNING on losing Congress and the White House?
    ’cause if they aren’t, they should be able to revisit this at any time.

  14. Lex

    I absolutely loved the Oprah interview with Obama. Not only does his self-grading of B+ tell us that he’s quite happy with how things have gone (or maybe he’s just doing the “lying politician” shtick for the sake of appearances). But the best part was at the end of that segment where he compares himself to FDR and talks about giving “health ca….um, health insurance” to all Americans”.

    That about sums it up, no? He knows that the two don’t equate and almost gave the left a stick to skewer him on.

    “Negotiation is possible. But only if anyone is willing to stand up, and potentially walk away from the table.” Indeed, and if there’s been any negotiation on the part of Obama and the Democratic Party, i can’t see it.

  15. b.

    “I don’t think it’s worth it…”

    You know better than that. If it does not “bend the cost curve”, it is doomed to fail, be repealed, and/or be un-regulated by executive malfeasance.

    Further, its existance burns the territory for any attempt to try again. See “Timulous Bill 2.0”.

    May I quote myself from Baseline Scenario:
    “Insurance, pharma, health unCare stocks are up for a reason. Obama is angering “his” base *because* he does nothing to reign in costs [..] To reduce health care cost, profits have to be reduced. The ceiling for savings is non-profit. To reduce health care cost, bureaucratic overhead cost have to be reduced [, cost] resulting directly from the National Health Security “system of systems” that is being Rube Goldberged here one more time (placing the saddle on the egg-laying wool-milk sow). The ceiling to overhead cost reduction is unified single payer, or national health care.
    Medicare-E, Medicare-55, Medicare+5%, [not-Medicare] – it is obvious where the savings are bled.
    If Obama was actually trying to fix the problem, he would anger his real base – the industry that every broker expects to directly benefit from tax-subsidized mandates.”

  16. b.

    Ceterum Censeo: Klein is a Tool – adrift in that vast void between TPM and WaPo.

  17. You’re changing the definitions. Who is supposed to be walking away here? Progressives from the ballot box and from the Democratic Party. If so, who are progressives negotiating with, that they can threaten it?

    If you are talking about Obama walking away from anything, well, I mean…

  18. b.

    I think your line-up misses the most insidious position – Nate Silver:

    ” The more compelling critique, rather, is that the bill would fail to significantly ‘bend the cost curve’. I don’t dismiss that criticism at all, and certainly the insertion of a public option would have helped at the margins. But fundamentally, that is a critique that would traditionally be associated with the conservative side of the debate, as it ultimately goes to mounting deficits in the wake of expanded government entitlements.”

    Silver runs the numbers to prove a false equivalent: The votes are not there to fix health insurance, but – magically, unquestioned – they are there to trade tax-funded subsidy scraps for guaranteed profits. Sanders could not to what Lieberman can do – scuttle the deal for an extremist demand. The numbers “prove” it.
    But worse, he takes the truth – the cost curve is the issue, and the so-called “public options” everybody has been so exicted about – and then smoothly transitions to the next stage of the debacle – cutting health care benefits to preserve profits.

    I am frankly in awe that this two-step is accompanied by “I think people tend to assume that I’m lost in the political forest and not seeing the policy trees. In fact, the opposite is true.”

    This is true “cognitive detention” in the Obama age – indeterminate and unrecognized, all disguised as “analysis” and “number crunching”. Policy as vote prediction – if you don’t have ’em, you will never get ’em.

    A notion of “progress” the likes of which I have not seen for a long time. Maybe it is good that there were no blogs during the struggle for Civil Rights after all.

  19. I’ll tell you what the real negotiation is: labour with capital. There is no other negotiation.

  20. Ian Welsh

    Are you being deliberately dense? Progressives are a faction within the Democratic party. Their votes are necessary to pass a bill. They thus have a bargaining position.

  21. Ian Welsh

    I wasn’t impressed by Silver during the election (his electoral prediction wasn’t that good, Stirling did better with a 4 year old model) and nothing since has changed my mind.

    The technocratic bloggers like Klein and Silver are the ones that irritate me the most. They cloak stupidity in supposed expertise.

  22. I’m telling you, they need to break it up into two tiers of insurance.

    Insurance companies don’t want to cover catastrophic illnesses, so take the damn things out of their hands. Only catastrophic absolutely must be a national program, which would mean it would make sense to make it paid for out of tax revenues.

    And if the rest of health care follows, then it will be because of the success of the initial program.

    But right wingers won’t let it happen because of that very reason. They DO NOT WANT WHAT’S BEST FOR THE COUNTRY.

    Yet they keep winning elections, and that is our fault.

    Carolyn Kay

  23. selise

    not progressive — it’s neoliberal thinking.

    i recently came across this old (oct 2007) paper from ro The Logic of the Health Care Debate. not usually a fan of lakoff, but imo this is very very insightful re dem version of neoliberal thinking.

    i won’t use the blockquotes because something this long will probably be easier to read without them.

    a quote from paper is below (my bolds):

    “In neoliberal thought there is the belief that markets can be effectively regulated to serve those interests, which leads to recommendations for technocratic changes to existing markets as one means to achieve progressive ends. Under the domestic version of neoliberal economics, many progressive moral goals can be achieved through private enterprise as an efficient means to moral ends. Though conservatism sees the market itself as defining moral ends, neoliberalism shares with conservatism the idea that the market can be efficient and serve moral ends. This is why neoliberal thought has no problem with health care solutions that involve profit-maximizing private insurance companies.

    The neoliberal emphasis on “systems” often causes a loss of focus upon the progressive morality that lies beneath their political and policy solutions. Specific references to progressive values disappear from their messages. So do references to the government functions of protection and empowerment. Neoliberals may begin with the morality of empathy and responsibility for oneself and others, but their faith and focus soon shifts to the abstract, to complicated systems and intricate public/private solutions. Empathy, the moral force that holds together our democracy and the engine of community, is reduced to sentimentality and shunted aside.

    Neoliberal thinking can lead to a dangerous trap. We call it the Surrender-in-Advance Trap. With an exaggerated emphasis on system-based solutions, neoliberal thought may lead one to surrender in advance the moral view that drives an initiative in the first place. Those who pragmatically focus on appeasing what they assume will be unavoidable political opposition to their proposals also run the risk of moral surrender. For instance, assuming strong, possibly insurmountable, conservative resistance to government-based health care solutions, they will embrace profit-maximizing insurance solutions because they believe that 1) political opposition can be muted; and 2) the “free” market, properly regulated, can serve moral purposes, such as providing health care for all Americans. Proponents of these neoliberal solutions often overlook the fact that the very source of the health care crisis is the structure of insurance: the less care they authorize the more profit they make, and profits come first and are maximized.

    But people using a neoliberal mode of thought do not view a market-driven, profit-maximizing approach as a surrender of any kind. They deeply believe that progressive moral principles can be served through neoliberal methods and forms of argument. We want to stress, however, that the consequence is dire whatever the motivation. The failure to articulate a clear progressive morality in favor of more technocratic solutions to profit-maximizing markets puts the progressive cause at a disadvantage on health care and other policy issues as well. It doesn’t matter whether one is simply trying to avoid conservative and insurance company opposition or whether one truly believes in one’s heart that the market will cure us. The progressive moral basis for providing health care for all—empathy and responsibility, protection and empowerment—is not stated. As a result, Americans don’t get to hear the progressive moral basis for extending health care to all Americans, and they don’t get to decide whether they agree with that moral premise. Americans only hear the conservative moral view. That moves them in a conservative direction, not only on this issue, but on all issues.

    There is an additional danger. As a strategy, surrender-in-advance puts advocates in the weak position of starting negotiations by going half way or more toward what the other sides want. No one would think of taking that approach when bargaining in the marketplace.”

  24. selise

    my apologies for the typos above.

  25. Ian Welsh

    Russ Feingold:

    Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, said it would be unfair to blame Lieberman for its apparent demise. Feingold said that responsibility ultimately rests with President Barack Obama and he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation.

    “This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” said Feingold. “I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect.”

  26. I agree. Time for a Tea Party of the Left to let these bastards know about the reality on the ground. The only thing they understand is street theater that gets a lot of media attention and trumps their millions of dollars in campaign ads.

    Lets start making the sign and straw figures to burn in effigy.

    Enough is enough. Pass out the torches and pitchforks. To the barricades.

  27. S Brennan

    To ”please, don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the good” I repeat my earlier reply:

    If I ask a question that is implicitly: “is this better than that” then it pays to know what “this” is and “that” is.

    In this case, “that” is the worst health system on earth measured through the economic paradigm of “bang for buck”.

    So when “this” beats out “that” it’s not telling us whether “this” is good, it’s saying, it’s better than the worst the world has to offer. I offer up a mental analogue for consideration.

    Most people would think rotting away in prison for the rest of your life is a pretty terrible fate…however…there is a group of men on death row where polls show that life imprisonment has well over 60% support “even after implementation”. So you will always find a group who say shitty is better than shittiest.

    This bill will prevent reform by strengthening the hand of the malefactors who caused this mess. The Nation’s interest is best served by driving a spike
    through this vampire bill and dragging it’s corpse into the sunlight. Obama said that any change to our current system “would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have.” Outside of the irony that Obama ran on “change you can believe in”, clearly he wants to enshrine the system and enacting this bill will do just that.

    It has been pointed out, that the insurance companies have bled the victim white and need a new host to sink their fangs into, this bill offers virgin blood in the form of public funds from Medicare and Medicaid. It also forces those in working poverty to buy a product that they can not afford by adding hidden taxes upon middle income workers. Far from being reform, this bill is a new blood supply to a malignant vampire who’s corpse could not stand daylight.

    People forget that after the first Clinton bill failed he came back with a Medicare “buy in” which was wildly popular and supported by both the left
    and the right of the Democratic party. This bill is Obama paying those who bankrolled his campaign, it’s not public policy, it’s a bought and paid for graft that will destroy what’s left of the real Democratic party and further hobble this nation with incalculable debt and misery. Reform has to come if the system is left the way it is and that reform will be far better than this blood sucking bill.

    So to people who mouth the platitude, “please, don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the good” it helps to remember, it’s really shitty and it’s debatable if it really is better than the shittiest…this in a year that Democrats had everything in their favor, but thanks to Obama, instead of reform we have a policy that is geared towards installing the Democrats as a permanent corporate party…which if you will remember was the Republicans policy. Now that really is “change you can believe in”.

    Dear God,

    Please visit a plague upon the Democratic leaderships house. Thanks so much!


    You know who

    PS still waiting for the pony

    So, unlike others here, I won’t sit home election day. I think it is perfectly valid to threaten Democrats, with the intent to carry out, voting Republican. Why? Well, if you vote against Democrats en masse, they will be unemployed en masse and if they are unemployed in mass…instead of in dribs and drabs, a great number, perhaps a majority, won’t get lobbying jobs…instead they’ll go home to a pathetic economy. And they will learn…that their megalomaniac dreams of a one party state (with high-paying/secure jobs for sycophants) do not have the support of fair-minded citizens.

    Now, certain Democratic operatives have come onto this board and other boards and threatened “lefties”. Those operatives have implicitly said, “if you throw us out of office, those Democrats who remain will support the Cheneyites who are trying to start a war with Iran”. And then…this nation really will be in crisis, because we couldn’t possibly win this war and fight the two previous wars we voted for and SUPPORTED. Nope, either vote the Democratic ticket or we will help to start a war that will kill millions. So we have Democratic operatives acting as agents of terrorism, threatening the existence of the United States, in order to quell dissent and drum up support for Obama/Democratic leadership policies which are identical to Bush’s.

    My answer to Democrats threats? Now? E’ff off. In 2010? 1-800-GET A JOB !

  28. Here’s the reality. A sovereign government that is the monopoly provider of a nonconvertible floating rate currency of issue is not revenue constrained. It does not need to tax or borrow to spend. Borrowing just removes excess reserves so the fed can hit its target rate (Fed funds rate). This is basic national accounting.

    The rest of the jive is politics. The idea that US is running out of money (Barack Obama) is like saying the that basketball games are limited because the scoreboard is low on numbers. It’s simply ridiculous on the face of it, and the advisers that let Obama talk like this are either incredibly stupid or disingenuous in the extreme. A government that is sovereign in a fiat currency can always spend on goods and services available for purchase as long as nominal demand does not exceed real capacity to produce goods and services. That’s irrelevant with respect to public goods like education, health care, and defense. The government can always provide for the public purpose, and if it puts so much into the economy that it increases AD beyond real capacity, then discretionary spending (pork) can be cut or taxes raised to reduce net financial assets and balance AD and real output/full employment with price stability.

    All this talk about cutting the cost curve is simply ignorance of how a modern (post August 15, 1971) monetary system works.

    This is all about making deals with private providers, in this case insurance and pharma, that will please Wall Street, which demands ever-increasing profits. So prices are inevitably going to have to rise to please the Street. The politicians know this full well or they are asleep.

    Whose side are the Democrats on? Look at them. Anyone of them drawing in under $250,000 a year personally? What is their net worth? These people are far removed from the world of ordinary Americans and the are serving the interests of their peers. When the get beaten in an election or retire, they can look forward to a cush position with the interests they supported, or lobby for them like Dick Armey, Trent Lott, and Tom Daschle.

    This is going to last as long as people put up with it. The teabaggers may be nutty, but I give them credit for recognizing that the only way to get politicians attention is to make some real noise, not just digital noise.

    BTW, I can tell you from my experience in the Sixties and Seventies, demonstrations are really lots of fun, too — if you don’t mind some tear gas and maybe take the chance of getting clubbed a bit. Kent State was an anomaly. Not many folks actually got killed back then. But with the Patriot Act, I suppose that now you could disappear.

    BTW, Randy Wray is out with an excellent post today, Is It Time to Reduce the Ease to Prevent Inflation and Possible National Insolvency? He dismisses the current ignorance deftly. Good read.

  29. Joe Mason

    “I wasn’t impressed by Silver during the election (his electoral prediction wasn’t that good, Stirling did better with a 4 year old model) and nothing since has changed my mind.”

    According to Silver, the Senate bill without the public option will save a family of four $4690 a year. Are you saying that his numbers are wrong, or that this saving is not important?

  30. b.

    Regarding the “protection racket” of making the victims hostages to offer an excuse for their representative’s abdication of responsibility…

  31. bayside

    Every time you decide to support the bad because it’s practical and doable, to the harm of the many, to benefit the select few, you need to hear no more. no damn more..You work for us………….

  32. Russ

    Good article, nailed it.

    Unfortunately big Dem/prog. places like Daily Kos are full of those fucking retards. If you even criticize Obama or one of the plans put forward, whether it’s HCR or financial overhaul, those idiots jump all over you. It’s EXACTLY like when Bush was in office, his supporters backed him on everything he did, even if it completely clashed with their so-called values. Bush and the Republicans could do no wrong in their eyes. So-called Democrats and progressives are now doing the same thing with Obama. Hell, who cares if he’s continuing indefinite detention and not holding people accountable for war crimes? It’s sad how quickly people will completely abandon their values after their “guy” gets elected.

  33. S Brennan

    Russ here’s some cannon fire for those retards:

    From the file under “Progressives rewriting history they are at it again file” Joeseph kicks butt – Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    “Let’s return our attentions to the “Blame Bill” contingent.

    What was Clinton’s real role in the repeal of Glass-Steagall back in 1999? I shall repeat some material published previously. These are facts which most “progressives” don’t want you to know, because most progressives suffer from an incurable case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. To paraphrase a popular Upton Sinclairism, it is difficult to get a person to understand something if his CDS depends on his not understanding it.

    As mentioned above, Glass-Steagall divided commercial banks from investment houses; it also created the FDIC (which, I am happy to report, is still there). Banks grew to dislike this “separation of powers.” Why? Because in boom times, people put their money in stocks, while in hard times, people put cash into savings accounts. Banks wanted to get in on both rackets.

    In 1998, Travelers (a really big insurance and financial services company) announced a merger with Citibank (a really big bank headed by the aforementioned Mr. Reed). This was not legal. This merger violated Glass-Steagall. That’s why a lot of helpful people in Congress decided to change the law. You may decide for yourself whether campaign contributions affected that decision.

    Thus was born the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which replaced Glass-Steagall. A growing number of economists believe that this Act helped to create the current subprime crisis, because it allowed bad loans to be packaged and sold in a global game of three-card monte.

    Here’s the key fact that the the progs won’t tell you about: The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed by a veto-proof majority in a Republican-controlled Congress.

    You can blame the Republicans, but not just the Republicans. There were also powerful Democrats, such as Dodd and Schumer, who wanted to kill Glass-Steagal.

    The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed the House by a whopping 343-86.

    Did Clinton try to fight the act? Yes. Every step of the way. Contemporary reports prove the point, however much the progs may attempt to rewrite history.

    The opposition was simply too powerful. Clinton had no choice but to focus like the proverbial laser beam on a more restrictive goal: Maintaining the Community Reinvestment Act, which Gramm hoped to kill with the same piece of legislation. The CRA, as expanded by Clinton in 1994, helped minorities and the working poor get home loans and business loans.

    The Republican majority (and quite a few Democratic sell-outs) forced Clinton to compromise. Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and even said a few laudatory words as he did so. That was the price of maintaining CRA. Blaming Bill Clinton for Gramm’s stupid law is like blaming Raoul Wallenberg for not defeating the Wehrmacht single-handed”

  34. b.

    “According to Silver, the Senate bill without the public option will save a family of four $4690 a year. Are you saying that his numbers are wrong, or that this saving is not important?”

    At what cost? Who pays? How does it scale against the profits made? How many families? Starting when? For how long? How easily repealed? How much health care will you be able to buy for that amount of money?

    If the Senate proposed a health insurance reform that would insure all of us for free for one year, while the deficit is increased to pay the industry 2009+5% profits for that same year, would that be a good thing?

    The question is not whether there is somebody – anybody – that accidentally or by design is the “benefitgoat” of this herculean effort to secure industry support for the administration and the party in 2010 and 2012. I am sure Obama will find plenty of people to join a press conferences to prove that their lot improved. The question is, at what cost – especially the opportunity cost.

    Look at “Timulus Bill 1.0” – you think there will be a another one? A *better* one?

  35. b.

    Here is a different set of numbers on the corporate “tithe”

    It is important to note that mandates as such are exactly what e.g. the German health care system is based on – but as the law shackles the customers to mandates, it also shackles the corporations with all the safeguards absent from the current proposals. If health care is to be financed by a tax, then single payer national healthcare is the most efficient way to do it.

  36. b.

    I wrote: “But worse, [Silver] takes the truth – the cost curve is the issue, and the so-called “public options” everybody has been so exicted about [does little to “bend” it] – and then smoothly transitions to the next stage of the debacle – cutting health care benefits to preserve profits.”

    That didn’t take long: as somebody else commented, “Nice Medicare you got there…”. This is almost breathtaking: he is pressuring for a bill that does not bring down profits (and hence cannot bring down costs w/o denying care) by pre-justifying benefit cuts (denying Medicare) in an insurance pool that is explicitely kept outside the scope of the failed bill. It is an inevitable “win” made possible by the current “win” – self-necessitating “entitlement reform”.

    Quote: ‘President Obama told ABC News’ Charles Gibson in an interview that if Congress does not pass health care legislation that will bring down costs, the federal government “will go bankrupt.” [..] The president said that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are on an “unsustainable” trajectory and if there is no action taken to bring them down, “the federal government will go bankrupt.”’

  37. selise

    Did Clinton try to fight the act? Yes. Every step of the way. Contemporary reports prove the point, however much the progs may attempt to rewrite history.

    S Brennan – do you have any evidence to back up your assertion? here’s some counter evidence: rubin became treasury sec. in jan of 1995. in feb, from the nyt:

    White House Is Joining in Efforts To Loosen the Limits on Banking
    Published: February 27, 1995

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 26— The Clinton Administration plans to call this week for legislation that would allow commercial banks, securities firms and insurance companies to merge, forming giant financial services companies that would offer everything from checking accounts to mutual funds and life insurance, Federal officials say.

    In a speech prepared for delivery in New York on Monday and in Congressional testimony scheduled for Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin will urge Congress to repeal the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, the officials said. For more than 60 years, the law has forced financial concerns to choose between owning commercial banks or owning securities companies like brokerage firms and investment banks, but not both

  38. Are you being deliberately dense? Progressives are a faction within the Democratic party. Their votes are necessary to pass a bill. They thus have a bargaining position.

    Bwuh? So this time we’re talking about legislators (not bloggers or Dem voters)? OK, then why is Russ Feingold not a 60th vote? I’m sorry, this doesn’t make sense.

  39. So, what you’re saying is that progressive legislators—at least those who you believe are on your side—should be willing to hold up the bill to get a better bill.

    Either way, the problem remains the same:

    1. Let’s say they do what you want, and hold up the bill. Do you think that the administration is going to push for a better bill in that instance? If you can honestly say yes, then it is a negotiation.

    2. But the evidence is clear that they are not doing this. Not in the Senate, at least. Then how many legislators do you actually consider to be progressive? Which Dem legislators are progressive legislators?

  40. jimbo

    Here’s a way to do what’s best for Americans and the insurance pigs. Gift the insurance companies with a multi-billion dollar donation every year, no strings attached other than they have to stay out of health care decisions. At the same time, set up a single-payer system that will save lives and practice proactive medicine. The republicans won’t like it, but the democratic whores will be able to live with it because it brings about what the insurance companies pay them for. Possibly the savings of an effective health care system will pay for the give aways to the insurance companies. The insurance companies will benefit because they won’t have to pay for all the lies and payoffs to politicians they currently have to make. Any negotionations will only be what the insurance companies can accept in terms of the give aways.

    Sounds cynical but maybe it will reduce the numbers of pieces of shit that have this country in a strangle hold.

  41. S Brennan


    I’ve seen this article used to prove that Clinton was the “driving force” in the repeal of Glass-Steagall before, let me say, I think it does no such thing.

    Let me start with KEITH BRADSHER, is a fool/liar and this line makes it clear:

    “Most economists now believe that the banks failed because they lacked adequate reserves and because many people failed to repay loans.”

    Actually, most economists believe that the banks failed because they lacked adequate reserves to handle a run on deposits, hence FDIC.

    The lack of quotes is glaring and should raise doubts as to what is being said, I believe only Leach [an Obama supporter today] is directly quoted.

    “Mr. Rubin…opposed the repeal of Glass-Steagall until recently”. Whatever Rubin wanted, the plan was to allow “commercial banks to merge with insurance companies”. So, when Rubin was hired by Clinton he was against repeal of Glass-Steagall*

    The rest of the article is speculation and the author makes that clear at the end:

    “Mr. Rubin plans to provide an overview of the Administration’s intentions”

    *Again, whatever this article implies the Glass–Steagall Act that prohibits a bank holding company from owning other financial companies were repealed on November 12, 1999, by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act.

  42. S. Brennan – agree generally with what you say. My only caveat would be that while I care about how people vote, the main idea is to vote. Vote for Democrats, Republicans, the best candidate, third party, whatever. It’s about the only way we have to influence the course of our government. Not voting is disarming unilaterally.

    If people don’t like how the people they voted for last time worked out, they need to learn from that mistake, not try to avoid the issue.

  43. S Brennan

    “Not voting is disarming unilaterally.”- Cujo359

    Yes, that is why I said:

    “So, unlike others here, I won’t sit home election day. I think it is perfectly valid to threaten Democrats, with the intent to carry out, voting Republican. Why? Well, if you vote against Democrats en masse, they will be unemployed en masse and if they are unemployed in mass…instead of in dribs and drabs, a great number, perhaps a majority, won’t get lobbying jobs…instead they’ll go home to a pathetic economy. And they will learn…that their megalomaniac dreams of a one party state (with high-paying/secure jobs for sycophants) do not have the support of fair-minded citizens.”

  44. jimbo

    One possible change to the plan I submitted earlier. Since the whores will be upset because a source of cash will be lost, submit the plan under reconciliation. I believe it qualifies, since it would be a budget issue. Of course the list of whores may be much larger than what we know today, but at least then we would know. Also, while I said what I wrote is cynical, is it really as bad as what we do today? Don’t we all know what is going on, that the lives of the huge majority of the American people come last in the interests of the pimps and whores who run government?

  45. Jon Walker’s written a good response to Nate Silver’s objections. Well worth the time, I think.

  46. Neither legacy party wants what’s right for the country.

  47. small quibble: … 70% of actuarial value, which means the company has to spend 70% of premiums on health care.

    that’s the definition of medical loss ratio, not of actuarial value.

    but yeah, a plan with 70% actuarial value, paid for with a premium with 70% mlr: junk insurance [and it looks to me like an actual stated minimum mlr got taken out of the exchanges entirely in hr 3962; i haven’t looked at the senate version lately].

  48. Petrocelli

    Great post, Ian !

  49. Gee Mandos, I wondered where you had disappeared to. Seeing your name reminded me of this advice you gave on election day:

    If you are one of those who are deliberately planning not to vote, fine. It’s actually a choice I respect. Someone convinced me a while back that there are cogent reasons for checking out. But if you’re going to vote, vote Obama. And if you’re going to abstain out of anger at Obama, vote Obama.

    Yes, even if you think he stole the primaries. Even if you think that he used false accusations of racism to destroy the primaries. Even if you think that his supporters make use of misogyny. Even if you hate Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s guts (and there’s lots of reason to do so). Even if you think that the RBC thing was messed up and an enormous case of pants-on-fire cheating. Even if you think he is the Manchurian Candidate, or at least an empty suit. Even if you think his backers negated your primary vote. Even if you detest the pernicious influence of Kos. Even if you really, really want to field dress the horse he rode in on. Even if you think he’s no progressive or lefty or what have you (he isn’t).

    Why? Because it’s turned out that meta matters. The American public is by and large in favour of a social-democratic policy consensus. But that doesn’t necessarily effect how things go at the ballot box. How things go at the ballot box is related to all kinds of meta issues. And the meta that matters now is that, regardless of the truth of the matter, it is widely held that Obama is winning on a populist platform. That perception is the 0.0001% margin you get out of the elections, even if it is very likely that you’ll get nothing else.

    Because it’s unlikely you’ll get anything else. Except perception. Perception is how the game is played. And it is a game, no matter that it involves people’s lives, and no matter whether you like it or not. Chances are, the world is going to be worse after the election than before no matter who wins, but that’s not the point. Building perceptions is. Meta.

    Maybe you should start listening to the people who were right all along.

  50. Meatprod

    Gee myiq2xu, I wondered when you’d show up. Seeing your name reminded me of this advice you gave a couple of years ago:

    Just stare at her boobs and don’t pay any attention to what she says. If she talks too much put something in her mouth.

    She needs to marry a rocket scientist so her kids will be half-wits.

    Maybe you should start listening to yourself before you attempt to shame others with past comments.

  51. Maybe you should start listening to the people who were right all along.

    Why? I have hardly contradicted any of the advice I gave back then, when I wasted time on that creepy hypocrite.

  52. (Which is not to say that Obama is not also a creepy hypocrite but so is almost any mainstream American politician and most of the Canadian ones for that matter.)

  53. I have hardly contradicted any of the advice I gave back then, when I wasted time on that creepy hypocrite.

    Only because your advice makes no sense.

  54. Everyone loves to hate dKos’s diarist TINS, but what he says is basically correct:

    It’s institution-building that matters. What happens from any given Capitol Hill vote to the next can certainly be consequential, but usually not that consequential.

  55. Ian Welsh

    Oh, and…

    Appearing on Fox Business News with Neil Cavuto, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said he’s “struggling with this,” but he is, as of now, inclined to vote against the healthcare bill as currently structured:

    I’m struggling with this. As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill. … I’m going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I’ve indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman’s action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs?

  56. Glen Tomkins

    You leave out the most important point

    Just walking away, having the few progressives in Congress who actually want to do the right thing join the Party of No and vote this turkey down, would be very effective because the health insurance industry badly needs a deal.

    Part of the problem with our side’s approach is that many of us naively believed that we were finally going to do something this year about the long-standing problem of the uninsured because our side had won some sort of argument, that we spoke so loudly in the 2008 election results that the politicians finally couldn’t ignore this agenda item of ours. A flattering view of the matter, but, like most flattering views, wrong. The political players finally allowed health care financing reform to go somewhare this year, not because of sick people, but because the industry itself needs some insurance against its increasingly bad health.

    Dropping bad risks from the rolls is a good thing for the industry, so it is certainly true that a contraction in the number of people they insure is not at all bad for them, as long as it is achieved via denial of coverage to the bad risks, or rescission on the bad risks who made it past denial of coverage at intake. That sort of drop in the number of folks they insure, while it does drop the number of people paying them premiums, has the much more important benefit of letting them not pay as much in claims. Avoiding adverse selection is more important to profits than volume of beneficiaries.

    But the sort of beneficiary that the industry has only recently started losing in numbers, is of the opposite significance. As their product becomes ever more expensive, and ever more loaded with holes in coverage, and as other industries progressively scale back on their provision of subsidized plans for their employees, it becomes less and less a smart deal for the young and healthy to do anything but go “naked”, or self-insure (if you want to put it positively). A healthy 25 year-old could salt away half of what coverage on the individual market would cost, and have plenty enough to cover the low expected health expenditures (seeing the doctor for a nagging cough), and after a few years, enough to cover low to moderate “catastrophes” (that broken leg on the skiing trip). No, it isn’t reasonable to expect that self-insurance would cover a major catastrophe, like leukemia, but, frankly, the crappy insurance available won’t keep you from bankruptcy over leukemia either.

    The more expensive and riddled with holes the industry products become, the more people will be forced by their low income, or even if they could afford insurance, by calculation that it isn’t worth it, to ditch the industry. And these people, the ones whose good health and low claims potential make them prime candidates for self-insurance, are the exact wrong people from the industry’s point of view to be deserting their ship. Desertion by these people will sink the ship. And the problem is made worse by its built-in positive feedback mechanism. Having a few good risks at the margin desert makes it necessary to raise premiums on the remaining beneficiaries, or make the product crappier by putting more holes in, because these good risks are the profit centers of the enterprise. But once premiums are raised, and/or the product made crappier, to compensate for the loss of these good risks, then a whole new tranch of people are in the zone where insurance is a bad deal for them, and the process repeats until the insurance is so expensive and moth-eaten with holes, that it makes economic sense to no one but bad risks to buy the things, and the industry is dead, as dead as if Single Payer killed it.

    We should have gone with Single Payer this year, and not even pretended to compromise. The vaunted public option and Medicare buy-in were just dishonest stalking horses for Single Payer, because either would have started an uncontrollable cascade away from the industry and towards Single Payer in fact, if not in name. Well, that’s all water under the bridge, and Monday morning quarterbacking. The situation right now is that doing nothing, and most importantly, not even dreaming about allowing a mandate that would solve the industry’s problem for it by chaining the slaves to the oars of the industry’s crappy, expensive products, will get us to Single Payer pretty quickly anyway, as the industry melts down without any assist from even a public option or Medicare buy-in.

  57. >>”According to Silver, the Senate bill without the public option will save a family of four $4690 a year.”

    How on earth can most families of four afford to even PAY $4690 a year, much less save that amount? How much will they be expected to pay?

    >>Gift the insurance companies with a multi-billion dollar donation every year, no strings attached other than they have to stay out of health care decisions.

    Then they’ll want more. And more. And more. Because they’re enti’led, you see. They’re better than us, and it’s their right, nay their duty to their stockholders, to squeeze us as much as possible. Their executives desperately need more yachts.

    This bill will be the death knell of the Democratic Party, and I must say the demise can’t come soon enough for me.

    Carolyn Kay

  58. John B.

    Glen Tomkins,
    exactly. And what this poits out is exactly what you say,namely that whar we need is single payer. Plain and simple. Anyhting other than that is a compromise, and most is a bad compromise at that.

  59. John B.

    Carolyn Kay brings up an interesting point, or choice perhaps. As presently constituted and with present leadership and issues and history, which of the two major parties would you most like to see go the way of the Whigs? Now there is a conumdrum…

  60. scott

    Does Mandos get paid to market the Stockholm Syndrome as a lifestyle choice of learned helplessness to us unwashed masses? Or is it explaining how all these issues are just meta?

  61. >>which of the two major parties

    Neither. We need to start all over again, beginning with school boards and moving up.

    Carolyn Kay

  62. pereubu77

    Thank you for this post. It allowed me to stop slamming my head against the wall for a few minutes. To me, it’s not even a question of the Senate bill is better or worse than what we have now — it’s a question of negotiating tactics, both on HC and on other issues down the road. If they are ever going to get anything they want, progressives have to be willing to walk away — it’s that simple.

  63. JTK


    I particularly liked your comments at ‘2009 DECEMBER 18’ (sorry… couldn’t resist) where you begin to break down the key players and what each one wants. I’d like to take that one step further and post a simple table that might go great distances toward enlightening the casual observer to what’s wrong in the United States today (hope this comes out readable):

    The President bill self

    Big Insurance defeat of bill Entire Republican Party
    mandate Joe Lieberman
    Evan Bayh
    Mary Landrieu
    Max Baucus
    Ben Nelson

    Republican 2010 wins Entire Republican Party
    Party 2012 wins Joe Lieberman

    U.S. reform Dennis Kucinich?
    Citizens lower costs Howard Dean?
    no recission Bernie Sanders?
    no pre-existing


  64. JTK

    Nope! Anyway:

    President wants a bill.
    Insurance wants mandates.
    Republicans want wins in 2010/2012… and/or the rapture.
    The People (or as I like to call them: ‘We’) want reform, cost constraints, etc..

    The 3rd column lists representatives of the above and what they hope to achieve:

    President Obama: represents himself of course.

    Insurance Industry: represented by the entire Republican Party, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Max Baucus, Ben Nelson and others from the Democratic Party as well, no doubt.

    The Republican Party: represented by 100% of their Party, and Joe Lieberman.

    The People: As someone else put it earlier… Bueller? Bueller?!?

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