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

Obama flexes his muscle

And Kucinich caves and agrees to vote on HCR.  Kucinich’s email is a piece of work:

I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it, but the bill as it is. My criticisms of the legislation have been well reported. I do not retract them. I incorporate them in this statement. They still stand as legitimate and cautionary. I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continue efforts until the last minute to modify the bill.

Basically, he seems to have gotten nothing for his vote. Nothing.  And he can’t even find a good reason to vote for it.

Obama is proving, again, that he is very good at arm bending.  What I am hearing is that threats are being made to cut off all Democratic party support for many Reps who vote against the bill.  Some blue dogs will be allowed to vote against, but progressives as a group, and even some conservative Dems are expected to bite the bullet, vote for the bill, and suck up the consequences.

This is the moment when Obama flexes his muscle, proves he has control of the party, and that he will use that control against those who stand in his way.  It’s what he has to do, and progressives should take note, because this sort of hardball politics is what they’ll have to do if they ever get in power.

This is the second time Obama has really bent arms.  The first time was the bailout bill, before he was even president, which would not have passed without his intervention, an intervention which I have been told was extremely heavy handed.

It’s a pity that Obama is only good at strong arming Democrats, prefers to strong-arm progressives instead of conservative democrats, strong arms for conservative bills which are giveaways to corporate interests and appears completely incapable of playing any sort of hardball with Republicans, but this is the President that Democrats wanted.

(Full text of Kucinich’s letter after the jump)

Each generation has had to take up the question of how to provide for the health of the people of our nation. And each generation has grappled with difficult questions of how to meet the needs of our people. I believe health care is a civil right. Each time as a nation we have reached to expand our basic rights, we have witnessed a slow and painful unfolding of a democratic pageant of striving, of resistance, of breakthroughs, of opposition, of unrelenting efforts and of eventual triumph.

I have spent my life struggling for the rights of working class people and for health care. I grew up understanding firsthand what it meant for families who did not get access to needed care. I lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including in a couple of cars. I understand the connection between poverty and poor health care, the deeper meaning of what Native Americans have called “hole in the body, hole in the spirit.” I struggled with Crohn’s disease much of my adult life, to discover sixteen years ago a near-cure in alternative medicine and following a plant-based diet. I have learned with difficulty the benefits of taking charge personally of my own health care. On those few occasions when I have needed it, I have had access to the best allopathic practitioners. As a result I have received the blessings of vitality and high energy. Health and health care is personal for each one of us. As a former surgical technician I know that there are many people who dedicate their lives to helping others improve theirs. I also know their struggles with an insufficient health care system.

There are some who believe that health care is a privilege based on ability to pay. This is the model President Obama is dealing with, attempting to open up health care to another 30 million people, within the context of the for-profit insurance system. There are others who believe that health care is a basic right and ought to be provided through a not-for-profit plan. This is what I have tirelessly advocated.

I have carried the banner of national health care in two presidential campaigns, in party platform meetings, and as co-author of HR676, Medicare for All. I have worked to expand the health care debate beyond the current for-profit system, to include a public option and an amendment to free the states to pursue single payer. The first version of the health care bill, while badly flawed, contained provisions which I believed made the bill worth supporting in committee. The provisions were taken out of the bill after it passed committee.

I joined with the Progressive Caucus saying that I would not support the bill unless it had a strong public option and unless it protected the right of people to pursue single payer at a state level. It did not. I kept my pledge and voted against the bill. I have continued to oppose it while trying to get the provisions back into the bill. Some have speculated I may be in a position of casting the deciding vote. The President’s visit to my district on Monday underscored the urgency of this moment.

I have taken this fight farther than many in Congress cared to carry it because I know what my constituents experience on a daily basis. Come to my district in Cleveland and you will understand.

The people of Ohio’s 10th district have been hard hit by an economy where wealth has accelerated upwards through plant closings, massive unemployment, small business failings, lack of access to credit, foreclosures and the high cost of health care and limited access to care. I take my responsibilities to the people of my district personally. The focus of my district office is constituent service, which more often than not involves social work to help people survive economic perils. It also involves intervening with insurance companies.

In the past week it has become clear that the vote on the final health care bill will be very close. I take this vote with the utmost seriousness. I am quite aware of the historic fight that has lasted the better part of the last century to bring America in line with other modern democracies in providing single payer health care. I have seen the political pressure and the financial pressure being asserted to prevent a minimal recognition of this right, even within the context of a system dominated by private insurance companies.

I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it, but the bill as it is. My criticisms of the legislation have been well reported. I do not retract them. I incorporate them in this statement. They still stand as legitimate and cautionary. I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continue efforts until the last minute to modify the bill.

However after careful discussions with the President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Elizabeth my wife and close friends, I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation. If my vote is to be counted, let it now count for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform. We must include coverage for those excluded from this bill. We must free the states. We must have control over private insurance companies and the cost their very existence imposes on American families. We must strive to provide a significant place for alternative and complementary medicine, religious health science practice, and the personal responsibility aspects of health care which include diet, nutrition, and exercise.

The health care debate has been severely hampered by fear, myths, and by hyper-partisanship. The President clearly does not advocate socialism or a government takeover of health care. The fear that this legislation has engendered has deep roots, not in foreign ideology but in a lack of confidence, a timidity, mistrust and fear which post 911 America has been unable to shake.

This fear has so infected our politics, our economics and our international relations that as a nation we are losing sight of the expanded vision, the electrifying potential we caught a glimpse of with the election of Barack Obama. The transformational potential of his presidency, and of ourselves, can still be courageously summoned in ways that will reconnect America to our hopes for expanded opportunities for jobs, housing, education, peace, and yes, health care.

I want to thank those who have supported me personally and politically as I have struggled with this decision. I ask for your continued support in our ongoing efforts to bring about meaningful change. As this bill passes I will renew my efforts to help those state organizations which are aimed at stirring a single payer movement which eliminates the predatory role of private insurers who make money not providing health care. I have taken a detour through supporting this bill, but I know the destination I will continue to lead, for as long as it takes, whatever it takes to an America where health care will be firmly established as a civil right.


Killing the Health Care Bill is Best


How To Save Abortion Rights


  1. anonymous

    Sickening. At least before I felt like the 1/2 or more of the country that voted for Bush and his team deserved what is coming to them. Now I can throw in more than 1/2 the Dems too. Maybe soon I can feel sorry for just myself.

    I wish the progressives would at least demand that the same standards applied to them be applied to the worst of the blue dogs. They’ve got the power over the fascist wing of the R party. If they don’t use it, what do they think is the point of keeping their seats? Actually, “keeping their seats” is a nice nonsexual double entendre that sums up the Dems nicely.

  2. anonymous

    Ooops. I meant the fascist wing of the D party.

  3. Moi

    “This bill is horrible and is a house built on a foundation of sand – so I vote ‘Yes'”
    — Kucinich

  4. fledermaus

    Well the dems have finally done it. They’ve proven Ralph Nader right about our two party system. They are touting Bob Dole’s health care plan – a plan to the right of what Mitt Romney did in MA – as the greatest progressive victory in 40 years!

    I’m ambivilent about the bill, pass it or don’t pass it. Maybe it will do all the wonderful things that the supporters say, bring down premiums, stop recission, and standardize what’s covered and regulate co-pays. I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong before. But the really annoying thing is the constant hectoring on how I have to (MUST!) call my rep to get it passed. I really don’t care, if it’s such a good bill with bunches of benefits for everyone like they say they would be well advised to pass it. But it looks like they don’t believe their own hype and are only passing it so they can say they passed HCR, regardless of the form it takes.

    As it stands my decision not to vote on national level races for the last three years is becoming more and more percipient with each passing day.

  5. Kucinich caved. He was the last of them, but they all appear to have.

    Now we know where their loyalties lie. That may not be much of a lesson, but it’s a lesson we should take away from this.

  6. The other lesson is that they’re liars. More than sixty pledged that they wouldn’t vote for a bill that didn’t have a public option. More than forty pledged they wouldn’t vote for a bill that didn’t protect the right to an abortion. The ones who vote for this bill will have broken those pledges.

  7. jo6pac

    Yep, more change we can believe in.

  8. BDBlue

    It gets better – now that the progressives are all on record as supporting the bill, the excise tax is back (I know it never really went away, but they’re talking about undoing the deal they made to make the bill palatable to the House to begin with).

    If labor helps the Democrats this year or in 2012, it’s insane.

  9. Steve

    I don’t think Obama, personally, played much of a role here. I think this is the left (unions, MoveON) putting pressure on wavering Democrats, not because it’s a good bill, but because if they don’t pass it — pass something — the Dems would look foolish and get destroyed in November’s election.

    They could also argue that the bill will improve in reconciliation. But to get there they *have* to pass the Senate’s bill first.

    I don’t have a problem with Kucinich changing his vote. He really didn’t have a choice. My gripe is with Obama and the rest of the DINO’s. Had they led, last year, and put together a real bill that actually addressed the asinine employer-based, for-profit, system – as opposed to keeping the system in place – then they wouldn’t be in this position, having to pass a watered down bill that’s “the best we could do.”

  10. TdRaicer

    Well, except it is not the President the majority of Democratic primary voters wanted. The one fact that gives me any hope.

  11. Ian Welsh


    that’s simply not what I’m hearing. Those orgs are getting immense pressure from the President too. Mind you, they have bought into “we pass it or die”, but the unions in particular have cut an awful deal.

    As for MoveOn, well….

  12. “[T]his is the President that Democrats wanted.” Well, not a majority of Democratic voters, and not the big states.

    Now, since after HCR the Dems are that dead rat in the wall, and all we can do is wait for the smell to go away, I’ve given up on the Dems as an institution completely, so I’m not making a “things would have been better if only” argument. But it’s still important to keep the record straight on how we got to the current situation.

  13. Steve writes: “My gripe is with Obama and the rest of the DINO’s. Had they led, last year, and put together a real bill…”

    No. The bill that is about to be passed is the real bill. It’s always been the bill that Obama, and his wing of the party, wanted, which is why they cut the deals that they did, and sucked the “progressives” into the public option roach motel. We are totally looking at a “Mission Accomplished” moment here, the only difference being that Obama has, in fact, accomplished his mission.

  14. This is exactly the President that the Democrats wanted, except in PUMA eyes. Does anyone doubt that a majority of Democrats voted for him in the election that matters (the general)? If they were upset with the primary, they could have voted for Cynthia McKinney or any other third party candidate, or stayed home, or voted for McCain. They did not.

  15. cripes

    This mis-named health care legislation is a stinking pile of corporate welfare. And the Dems and Repugs have been–still-are–Mutt and Jeffing us to death with their phony “(bi)partisan” bullsh*t.

    Oooooh, Obama is so weak, ooooh McCain was so much scarier, ooooh, just be quiet and accept these poison crumbs you proles.

    They make me sick. And so does Dennis, who actually has a brain.

  16. Steve, this is Obama’s health care bill. He made a deal with the drug companies and big service providers last summer. I don’t know of any evidence of collusion with the insurance industry, but I wouldn’t be surprised. OTOH, it’s pretty clear what they wanted, and how much money they could pour into Democratic coffers if they got it. Who needs collusion when you know what you’re supposed to do?

  17. Z

    I’m very disappointed in Kucinich’s kabuki-ness in this matter. It seemed to me that he cynically laid the backdrop for breaking his word when he voluntarily hung out with obama this week which obama used to publicly persuade him and make Kucinich’s case for breaking his word.

    Our intelligence has gotten insulted enough with rahm written dramas in this health care bill, we really, really don’t need any more scripted political acts … especially from one of the very few congressmen that I thought was above it. And maybe I am being too cynical, but this is american politics and it’s hard not to notice that Kucinich started getting coy about his vote just as he was accompanying obama to the pope of hope’s faux populist rallies in Ohio.


  18. Lex

    I don’t know how i could be more conflicted. I’m mad as hell at my Rep (Stupak) for trying to ram his Catholicism down everyone’s throat, but on the other hand he might actually vote against the bill. And while his “No” will be for all the wrong reasons, it’s still the right vote.

    And for this, the minions have been turned loose to primary him. A case of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. But here there’s a bunch of people donating to his opponent who won’t care what happens if/when Stupak is defeated. And i’ll be left with a Dem candidate who is, apparently, running on a single issue and will probably lose badly in the general; leaving me with some nutjob Republican. Will the minions care about my plight then or just right me and my neighbors off as residents of Dumbfuckistan?

  19. Lex

    “write”…sorry. Early and angry.

  20. Oh, gawd, mandos plays the PUMA card. When I read, “this is the president the Democrats wanted,” I understood Ian to refer to the nomination process. If Ian had written “this is the president the country chose,” I would have understood him to refer to the general. He didn’t.

  21. Now Kucinich is whipping for the bill. How did Obama get the horse’s head on Air Force One, anyhow?

  22. Ian Welsh

    Yup, progressives are wimps.

    And that’s the generous interpretation of their actions.

  23. I expect what happened was that Obama told Kucinich—who probably already knew—the very obvious truths that:

    1. The People Who Matter are not prepared to make moves that jeopardize the health insurance industry (single-payer, public-option of any kind, Medicare buy-in). I mean, why would they, when they’re trying to reboot financialization?
    2. There would be no reform attempts after this one in the forseeable future.

    So, for killing the bill, Kucinich gets at best nothing, and at worst the opprobrium of the Democratic leadership. For accepting the bill, at least the Democrats get a rhetorical victory, reform attempts are no longer entirely cursed (to undo it would require another reform attempt), and at least some people will benefit from it, if a small number.

    Kucinich is playing the best hand he has here. There’s just no mileage from killing the bill. Of course, none of this suggests that the bill itself is going to be good policy, or even that rosy scenarios are even particularly likely to follow; it’s just that, there’s no rosy scenario at all from him casting a deciding no vote.

  24. I don’t know why what “majority of democrats want” should necessarily be interpreted as the nomination process, which is clearly and explicitly defined in advance to reflect a procedure that does not guarantee the majority will. What any group of people want can only really be deduced from their votes in the general and how their electors in the Electoral College are apparently bound to vote. The majority of Democrats are indisputably responsible for Obama, who was their Presidential choice, and they’re partly responsible for this health care reform process—assuming, as so many people do, that Obama’s colours were knowable in advance.

    If they didn’t vote for him in the general, none of this would have happened. Can’t get more responsible than that, can they?

  25. DWCG

    The good thing about this is all the bastards who have been taking our money, using our energy are going to be thrown out of power in a few months.

    The bad thing about this is that the people replacing them don’t even use lube.

  26. dugsdale

    I don’t know where you guys all get the idea that defeating this thing will magically result in getting something better passed. I don’t see it. Obama’s anxious to get HCR passed so he can move on to his big “Financial Reform” kabuki, which will undoubtedly be as watered-down and useless under his “leadership” as is the current version of HCR, and there’ll be neither time nor will among the gutless maggots in congress (or the congressional leadership) to do HCR right a second time, if it goes down to defeat now. (I could be wrong about that, but I don’t think so.)

    The progressive bloc’s signing public-option pledges and whatnot was a bargaining tool, but progressives just don’t have the numbers to get leadership to do what we want. Unless and until we elect more progressives, and get public funding of elections, I’m afraid there just aren’t enough EFFECTIVE tools in the progressive toolbox to have a major effect on policy, and there will NEVER be a time when Obamarahmabama collectively grasps their hankies & go “Oh dear, we’ve offended the progressives, we better run to the LEFT from now on!” No, that’s not how it works. We pull our support, these clowns run to the RIGHT, because that’s what they always do.

    Publicly funded elections. Remove congressional maggots’ incentive to feed on the public that elects them by becoming paid shills for the corporate lobbyists. Chip away at corporate lobbyists’ clout with Obamarahmadingdong. What other real choice is there?

  27. Ian Welsh


    show me where those who wrote here (let alone “all”) said anything about getting a better bill if this one is defeated?

  28. dugsdale

    Ian, good point: I guess I’ve been assuming all along that passing even this POS bill is preferable to nothing at all–and that people who urge defeat of the current bill have something better in mind than…nothing at all?

  29. Ian, good point: I guess I’ve been assuming all along that passing even this POS bill is preferable to nothing at all–and that people who urge defeat of the current bill have something better in mind than…nothing at all?

    Believe it or not, there are people who believe that doing nothing is better than this bill, and if you read the last few threads you’ll see that our host is definitely one of them!

    I for one am in full agreement with you: the only reason for rejecting this bill is a viable path to a better bill and a credible opportunity. Insofar as there isn’t one… That AFAICT basically makes you and me the only people to have commented in the last long while who think so.

  30. So here’s the thing:

    There is no Constitutional reason why the USA could not have elected a government that would give them true universal health care. There’s no formal barrier or obstacle. So the real question is, why didn’t it?

    People (I’m looking at you PNHP) claim that if you explain the concept and what true universal health care would take, a good majority of the American public would support it. But here’s the thing: that means that there’s a very vocal chunk of people who would not. Even if you explained it to them.

    I’ve met some of these people. They aren’t idiots. They simply believe that there are classes of people who should not get access to care, unless they can pay for it themselves. Billionaires for Wealthcare was a hilarious joke, but there really are a not insignificant chunk of people whose advice is: “Take an Advil, walk it off.”

    I hardly think that Americans and Canadians are that different politically, but here is probably one difference. In Canada, very few people indeed would admit to that sentiment. The right-wing radio hosts are all for undermining the system, but they talk about allowing people to pay their way, effectively, to the head of the queue. In the USA, this is not so; there really are people who are willing to see others die in agony for the crime of being the undeserving, working poor.

    Until that stream of moral argument is much weaker in the USA, the insurance companies will always get their way.

  31. BDBlue

    Chris Floyd explains why nothing is better than this bill:

    Anyway, in the end, Dennis proved to be no menace at all to the Boondoggle Express. He got on board offering the same lame justification for junking his principles that a plethora of progressives have served up: the idea that passing the current HCR (High Corporate Returns) bill is somehow a step forward toward real reform somewhere down the road someday. The usual line is something like, “If we don’t pass this horrible bill, we won’t get another shot at real health care reform for 20 years.” Or as Kucinich himself put it (somewhat inelegantly): “This is a defining moment for if we will have any opportunity to move off square one on health care.”

    This seems to me to be the exact opposite of the truth. In reality, if this horrible bill passes, we will be stuck with it for 20 years, because no Democratic politician — “progressive,” “pragmatist,” or otherwise — will want to go near the issue again. You can already hear the “savvy” counsel party bigwigs will dispense if anyone tries to “move off square one” on health care in the foreseeable future: “For God’s sake, don’t rake all that up again! Don’t you remember the hell we went through getting that damn thing passed in 2010? You want to give the Republicans another club to beat us over the head with? We’ve done ‘reform.’ Leave it alone.”

    However, if this bill (which almost every “progressive” has declared is a misbegotten, corruption-ridden, botulistic glop of indigestible legislative sausage — even as they threaten to wage holy war against anyone who votes against it) is defeated, then the ground will be cleared for genuine reform. A real leader could then say: “OK, we tried it your way. We brought in the corporations. We courted the Republicans shamelessly. We gave away the game on day one, took all our cards off the table, compromised every value we profess to hold. We backed down, we turned tail, we sold out. And it didn’t work. Now, we’re going to do it for real. Single-payer, universal: that’s where we start, and by God, that’s where we finish, or somewhere damn near to it. And if you don’t like it — well, let us refer you to the famous words uttered by Dick Cheney to Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate on that historic day in 2004.”

    I’ll just add that by passing this terrible bill, you essentially give the insurance companies even more lobbying money via premiums earned under the mandate. So you essentially will have Versailles claiming they did healthcare already and getting even more money from the insurance industry to do nothing about it again.

    This bill sucks, which is why it doesn’t become effective for years – many of the provisions after Obama runs for re-election. It’s very structure is designed to end the topic – wait until the provisions kick in and we’ll see if they work – while shoveling more money to the folks against reform. The healthcare crisis isn’t going to go away if this bill passes, but the political urgency of doing anything about it will. If it doesn’t pass, then something might not happen this year, but the pressure will remain (and could even build if some of the grassroots Medicare for All movements continue to grow).

  32. DancingOpossum

    Killing this bill now does open the door to real change, for the simple reason that our current system is unsustainable. Completely unsustainable. Like the banks who were “too big to fail,” the health insurance companies–who control vast swathes of the economy and are might generous to their puppets–went to Obama and to Congress and said, “You must bail us out!” and of course, Obama and the Dems, knowing well upon which side their bread is buttered, said “OK.” Because that is EXACTLY what this is — TARP for the insurance companies. A bailout on the backs of taxpayers for greedy rapacious bastards who couldn’t fix their own problems and now are not allowed to fail in our wonderful free-market paradise.

    The insurers know — they damn well know — that the system is on the verge of collapse, and that only this kind of enforced bailout will prop it up. Without the bill, the whole ugly thing would come tottering down, and that would be a very good thing. Awful in the short term, no doubt, but it would have forced the government to come up with a real solution. All this does is prolong the agony. For how long? Infinitely, I suppose, or as long as the insurers want it. When the GOP takes over they’ll just switch the flow of money to ensure continued cooperation.

    The only bit of hope I see on the horizon is the handful of states who are threatening to sue the feds if their citizens are forced to buy insurance they cant’ afford. Yeah, it’s a GOP move and for GOP reasons, but so what? If it kills it, then good. At this point I’m willing to donate money to Boehner if it means this bill dies.

  33. See, to believe all that you have to believe that

    1. Killing this bill will lead to some sort of collapse. (What does this look like?)
    2. This kind of collapse would be imminent.
    3. The political result of said collapse would be a replacement of the current health care system (rather than allowing the collapse to fester, or some variant repetition of bank bailoutry).
    4. That replacement would be fair and ethical (more so than now, at least).


    5. The political failures required to bring about a collapse wouldn’t also significantly empower extreme right-wing populists.

    Can people not see the problem with relying on that many contingencies? It boils down to a belief that crises are very much more likely to New Deal situations than not. Have the movement in place first, then if you still must, induce collapse. Anything else is playing with fire.

  34. dugsdale

    Sorry, I don’t find Chris Floyd’s scenario convincing, since it hinges on the appearance of a “real leader” who “could then say” — what, exactly? Something that hasn’t already been said, a thousand times? Something presumably so compelling in its lucidity that everyone would smite themselves on the brow and say, “Well of course! What a fool I’ve been! It’s suddenly all so clear to me! Now, let’s REALLY pass HCR!” Sure, that’s gonna happen.

    I like Opossum’s scenario a little better, because at least it doesn’t depend on a miracle deus-ex-machina of some kind. I agree totally with DO’s sentiments about the insurers, and his/her anger at the whole unspeakable process. But then a phrase jumps out at me: “…the whole ugly thing would come tottering down, and that would be a very good thing. Awful in the short term, no doubt…”

    Awful for whom, exactly? Pretty much everyone, I would think, especially the powerless people who are being punished already just by living in a country where the elites don’t care about them. And there’s a kind of fecklessness, or heedlessness, about DO’s rather blithe characterization of this “awfulness” that really kind of bothers me. I’m not trying to be argumentative, I just don’t see how, having gotten a full load of the craven, self-dealing, greed-soaked goobers who wield the power in this process, you can assume that in the midst of the kind of “awfulness” DO seems to be OK with, said goobers will suddenly snap-to and create a shining city on a hill. That’s magical thinking, in spades.

    I’m sorry. I’m afraid it looks to me as if this right here, this HCR process, is how change is going to get done. Messy, imperfect, unpleasant in many ways, a step or two forward in other ways, utterly infuriating, and utterly exhausting.

  35. BDBlue

    But the bill doesn’t stop the collapse, it merely papers over it by permitting the elite to claim they’ve solved it. What exactly does this bill do? It does very little beyond expand Medicaid, which might be a good thing if 1) Medicaid eligibility didn’t force people to give up all of their assets, making poor people poorer and 2) the GOP wasn’t going to gut those subsidies as soon as the win control of Congress (probably with Obama’s blessing). The agency that was supposed to control premium rates is now probably going to be killed. The requirement to cover pre-existing conditions is basically unenforceable (and without premium rate regulation useless). The excise tax is going to continue to tax the few people with decent plans.

    What’s more, the good things in this bill. like the community health centers, could easily be stripped out and pass on their own even Medicaid expansion. Hell, that was even the plan right after Brown lost. But everyone’s acting like they have to swallow the whole bill to get the few small fixes when there’s no reason to believe those things couldn’t pass on their own. Hell, that was the plan right after Brown beat Coakley before the corporatists saw their opportunity to roll progressives to essentially vote for the Senate bill.

    The current bill is in no way reform. It isn’t even close to reform. It’s an insurance company bailout, one that – as Matt Taibbi pointed out – uses state power to ensure private profits.

    Now, personally, I don’t care if the Democrats ever win another election at this point. But if you do care about such things, this bill is a political disaster for them in the medium and long term (maybe even the short term). Because it sucks. If it didn’t, it would kick in before Obama is up for re-election. That he’s structured it so that he doesn’t have to run on a lot of what the bill does is extremely telling, IMO, about whether the White House thinks it’s truly going to help people. Bills that truly help people tend to win elections.

  36. BDBlue

    Sorry for the mess in the grammar. I need an edit function.

  37. Z

    The case could be made that this bill potentially sets the table for a public option or a single payer system, which we could have right now if we didn’t have another corporate call boy in the oval office. If the health insurance companies keep raising their rates when we are mandated to buy their product, the pressure point will be on the insurance companies and having the government take over and eliminate them. But mind you, what will probably happen is that the government and their partners in the health care industry will find some crafty way to further subsidize the insurance industry so people can afford it. Maybe a federal tax on food …

    Personally, I don’t like this bill … I wouldn’t vote for it. It could have been so much better; watching the kabuki play out, and obama sell us out while claiming the exact opposite, has been very maddening.


  38. BDBlue

    I can see that, Z. Although realistically, that’s just another version of a “collapse” in the system because people are likley to simply stop buying insurance and take their chances with the IRS (the penalties appear to be cheaper than the premiums).

    I wouldn’t vote for it either. There are things in it that I would vote for, but the price this bill seeks for those things is too high and it re-emphasizes America’s fetish with corporations, something which is killing us all (literally).

  39. But that’s exactly the point. The American political system as a whole has vehemently—and for a long time—closed the door on policy that actually works for health care. (It’s been able to do so, as I said, partly because there is a reasonably significant segment of the American public that actively supports the consequences as in no other country that I know of.)

    Knowing by dint of that what is on offer is necessarily inadequate or even maleficent, the question is, what do you do to prevent the maximum suffering and/or even hold the door open for future change? Frankly, the perception of collapse is almost as dangerous as actual collapse itself, just as the perception of political paralysis is—in this case—almost as dangerous as actual paralysis itself. Passing the bill avoids both. Staving off collapse for longer and staving off the perception of collapse and its extremely unpleasant likely political outcomes is the order of the day—unless you think that a New Deal is very likely to be forthcoming after a collapse (see “Bailouts, toxic assets”).

    As say this as someone who is living the system and is, in fact, currently fighting an extremely scummy insurer over a (small, fortunately) claim.

  40. Ya know, what really irks me is Kucinich and Weiner’s insincere shilling for how they have to vote vote it because … yada, yada, blah, blah …

    And Chris Floyd hit the nail on the head, when he revealed the true euphemism for HCR

    HCR (High Corporate Returns)

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