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

Progressive Enablers

So, these last few days we’ve seen virtually every major progressive blogger say that the health care bill was worth passing and that progressive members of Congress who promised to vote against it if it didn’t include a public option were right to do so.  (I, of course, think that the public option as offered was crap, but that’s not the point, they made explicit promises not to vote for a bill that didn’t include one.)

The argument I have heard is that of course they never meant it, “everyone” knew they were lying, and that it is unreasonable to expect them to keep to their word.

What I take from this is that most progressive bloggers believe that we should just assume that politicians are liars and not take them at their word.

Is that really what they want to argue?  That all progressive politicians, every single one, are liars who won’t keep their word?

I’m willing to agree with them, if that’s what they’re trying to say, or rather, I think they’re gutless.  I think when the pressure is put on them, they fold.

And almost every  “major progressive” forgives them, which is why they keep lying and keep folding, because they know they will be forgiven for being gutless liars.

That’s the behaviour most progressive bloggers, and everyone else making excuses for them, enables.

This entire generation, whether in media or power, is hopeless.  A write off. Gutless, stupid and liars.  They all need to go.  And forgive me, that includes most of the high ranked bloggers, many of whom I consider my friends.  Instead of being people who challenged power, who had the moral and intellectual integrity to speak from a place of principle, they have become apologists for the worst sort of craven sell-outs imaginable, constantly decided that if some group wins it’s ok to hurt other groups, including by taking away their rights.

The blogosphere I grew up in, is dead.  And the hope that the Democrats would be enough better than the Republicans to fix America, well, that too is dead.


How To Save Abortion Rights


The Question About HCR is Not…


  1. bayville

    Are the major Progressive bloggers/”thinkers” still blaming Nader for everything?
    I’ve lost track of the approved, serious Democratic supporter talking point/narrative about five years ago.

  2. b.

    It did not really take health care to make this point. Torture covered up, torture codified in AFM Appendix M, whitewash for illegal wiretapping, infinite detention w/o trial, assassination by drone, the Fed-Freddie/Fannie mortage laundering pipeline – there is plenty out in the open that shows this administration is no less corrupt than the previous one. The speech in front of the National Archive was a piece of work:

    “In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.”

    Hostis humanis generis.

    I suppose we will all meet again once the “Entitlement Commission” to avoid raising taxes to repay deficit borrowing from the Social Security trust fund has delivered.

  3. jawbone

    The Lightbringer president has been enlightening for me: I finally really, really see the Dem Party for the corporatist tool it has become.

    Is there hope? Can we retake the party, bring it back to the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party? Is there a third party to grow?

    I don’t know. I don’t see how. But as the Dem Party is, it’s worthless.

    Are there still enough principles there to fight back Obama pushing St Ronnie type SocSec and Medicare deform?

    Where we gonna go, sweeties? WhereM?

  4. David Kowalski

    Is it any wonder that six or eight Stupak votes contains more power than 40 “progressives” who pledged to vote against any measure with anti-abortion provisions? The Stupaks may be wrong but they do indeed vote the way they say they will vote.

    “Progressives” get caught up bu their seriousness. By trying to preserve a shred of good they constantly give away the store and then can’t figure out why it happens every time. That is terrible bargaining, terrible politics and neither Lyndon Johnson nor Franklin Roosevelt would have ever done it.

    And we lose out to a schmuck. Actually, lots of schmucks. Depending on the good faith of Barack Obama to preserve abortion and contraception? Again? Depending on him why? Chris Bowers argues that Obama is not a liberal or progressive (right there) but that “progressives” will be judged totally by Obama’s actions. Maybe it is time to get some distance and advocate real liberal solutions. It’s actually easier to do than advocating watered down versions of what’s already been watered down as one of the great moments in the history of the Republic. Barf, barf, barf.

  5. The more women in elected positions, the less corruption there is.

    Maybe we need to elect more women.

    Carolyn Kay

  6. I’ve always been irritated by the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” because I think it’s bandied about far too easily and often, but I can’t think of any better description of what happened to progressives between last summer and now. The same people who were livid at the possibility of a public option being left out of health care reform (which we now know was a fait accompli) are cheering themselves hoarse over this bill — and ridiculing/attacking those who don’t seem to have magically forgotten all the promises that were made and the efforts of progressives, ultimately for naught, to improve this plan and make it something we could actually be proud of.

    I am glad the bill, such as it is, passed. People’s lives will be improved, which is good. But I don’t see anything here to cheer about. This is a wonderful thing for Obama, and for the Democratic party, but it’s a major setback for the Progressive movement, and the sad thing is that we basically did it to ourselves.

  7. What I take from this is that most progressive bloggers believe that we should just assume that politicians are liars and not take them at their word.

    This attitude bothers me, because what we expect is eventually what we end up with.

    Carolyn Kay: Correlation doesn’t prove cause. Frankly, I’m not even sure there’s a strong correlation, given the limited number of samples, but your argument’s sandy foundations are made worse by the leaky roof.

  8. DupinTM

    The shocker for me was a little while back when the fusion ballot people in NY, the Working Families Party, really the only way a third party can work w/o Dick Armey and a Fox News behind it, came out for the bill.

    Agreed on all points. I kept coming back to those original backroom deals with Tauzin et. al., and wondered how exactly, even with Citizens United, could an industry spend, say, a billion dollars on every station all day w/o people smelling the bullshit a mile off? For months now the oil companies have run the same old ads with ‘regular folk’ talking about ‘no new taxes on energy!’, and even my dittohead friends get that they’re full of shit (once one told me it was proof that CNN was liberal and biased). I get the insidious Overton Window style of ‘drill baby drill’ or eliminationist rhetoric working its way from Fox, and I see in the polls about the bill ‘not being liberal enough’ (ie, good whatsoever) staying super low in the face of this Obama veal pen crackdown, but I have to keep some hope in people.

    I’d rather have trusted people’s bullshit detectors in the creepy ads with the bad music than hear endlessly about how brave and awesome Democrats are – maybe better than FDR! LBJ! John Lennon! – like passing an industry handout in the face of lies calling it better than what it actually is (the socialism nonsense) takes guts. Promising transparency and doing the same old thing for no results and a drawn out affair with no apparent deals that this’ll be easier for financial or climate change stuff… argh.

  9. b.

    “Obama is not a liberal or progressive [but] “progressives” will be judged by Obama’s actions.
    Maybe it is time to get some distance…”

    That is long overdue.

    I believe that the “doom loop” analysis of Obama’s costly and ill-conceived attempt to restore the bubble economy to its status quo ante – ready to pop once more, with a vengeance – is going to backfire. Unlike the fraudulent “Health Insurance Subsidy and Preemptive Bailout” act the full impact of this atrocity cannot be deferred to 2018 and beyond by fiat.

    If and when the fiscal and regulatory misdeeds of the Democratic Party and its Confabulator-In-Chief collide once more with hard reality, any liberal/progressive policy proposal dear to you better have a lightyear or two of separation. To consort with these dogs is to get eaten alive by the fleas.

    Torture alone should have done it. You cannot vote for, or support in word or deed, a man unwilling to uphold the oath that he (thanks to Our Supreme Roberts) actually wound up swearing twice. The Obama administration is in direct violation of domestic and international law in several respects as regards detention and torture, and it is sickening to watch this simply fact to be relegated as a “sideshow” of some kind.

    Hostis humanis generis. You do not associate with, you do not seek allegiance with those that commit crimes against humanity.

  10. b.

    errr – “the doom loop analysis is right on the money, and the attempt will backfire”

  11. Mudduck

    Here in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City, we’ve just elected a progressive gay man, Danny Dromm, to the city council. In Astoria, one neighborhood over, we’ve elected a progressive candidate, David Weprin, to the state assembly. Last week, Jackson Heights put José Peralta in the state senate, replacing the disgraced but unrepentant Hiram Monserrate. Not sure what these good guys can do, with the city and state tax bases in disarray, but they’ll do what they can. We know them and see them regularly. Our national representatives have divided loyalties, but at least the locals have direct access.

    There were signs from the beginning that Obama was a sock-puppet, but his liberal rhetoric gave some hope of leverage on him. What we got was a year of fumbling and misdirection as tried to obscure what they were going to do anyway. Well, the national Democrats finally had to demonstrate that, in fact, they had the ability to act, despite months of pretended impotence. Maybe we can hold them to this new standard.

    But, in any event, you can have an effect locally. Find good local candidates and support them.

  12. Jim

    The unmasking continues.

    Enabling is part of the process.

    Some come to understand the current situation through the study of political economy, history, philosophy and the daily struggles of both the ruling elite and the working class. Others only look at the daily battles and become very confused. The intellectually honest–and I put Ian in this category–will sort through it all and see the polarization between the ruling elite and the working class and point out who represents each side’s interests.

    Clearly this bill does not represent the interests of the working class. Only a single payer universal health care bill would represent these interests. Clearly (or more clearly, for some), Congress does not represent the interests of the working class. Clearly (or more clearly) both parties wanted this bill because they both support a massive transfer of wealth from the public sector to the insurance companies. Both parties are trying to save capitalism. They represent the enablers of capitalism. I ask you: if this Democrat majority with a Democrat President and a mandate from the people could not pass health care reform, then can capitalism be reformed at all, ever?

    When will this mask come off?

  13. BDBlue

    After the last couple of years, I’d be very happy never to hear the word progressive again (a point I made today in Talk Left’s comments).

    I also sent a scathing email back to Emily’s List in response to a donation solicitation based on their “stopping Stupak”. Of course, it didn’t mention the EO. Useless.

  14. BDBlue

    John Caruso, writing about the anemic anti-war protests under Obama, has this bit about how people mis-see Obama:

    The problem with Obama is that far too many people—even those willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to protest his wars—think of him as an ally who needs to be persuaded rather than an enemy who needs to be opposed. Yes, there’s much in Obama’s background (and self-promoting literary output) that suggests that beneath that cool, calculating exterior bleeds the heart of a true liberal, but nonetheless, no, he most certainly does not share your values—unless your values include extrajudicial executions, throwing bushels of money at the military, saying “the CIA gets what it needs”, and blithely kissing your own children goodnight as you’re vaporizing other people’s kids thousands of miles away. Then he’s your kind of guy.

  15. I think the progressive blogosphere and congresspeople are rejoicing in the defeat of an enemy, even if it is also a lesser defeat for ourselves. Fighting among ourselves will only make the defeat worse. One thing that wasn’t clear to any of us last August is just how bad a defeat for the Democrats would have been: it very likely would have put the radical right back in power. So I think, standing on principle is both ill-mannered and poor tactics. Sure, we can blast the Congressional progressives for not keeping their promises. We might even be able to get some of them replaced. But would this strengthen our position? It would not. Long term, I think, conditions have rarely been better for the major reforms and the formation of a new major party in the USA, and I think that is where we need to focus our efforts.

  16. BDBlue, it is striking how much attitudes towards the US President have become similar to attitudes towards a monarch. We have projection of our hopes and fears onto the president. We also, to my complete astonishment, have arguments over legitimacy. Any student of history will recognize both of these.

    Hominids. Croak!

  17. selise

    Long term, I think, conditions have rarely been better for the major reforms and the formation of a new major party in the USA, and I think that is where we need to focus our efforts.

    raven, we don’t know how to build organizations that don’t get bought out / co-opted / mislead. we don’t understand transparency or accountability or the moral imperative of treating people by the same set of rules regardless if they are powerful or a nobody — in our own organizations. hell, we don’t even understand honesty.

    and if we don’t learn how to do these basic things in our own organizing, then what kind of new party are we going to form?

  18. Bolo

    I think this healthcare debate sealed the deal for the US. Ok, maybe it was sealed earlier, but there is no clearer indication than the recent debate, vote, and final bill–an indication that the US is not capable of solving its problems.

    Stirling had written up a chapter or two in draft form for his “Fourth Republic” some time ago and I think the general dynamic outlined there (and in the writings of Ackerman and, to a lesser extent, Strauss and Howe) is pretty close to the truth. We are in a period much like before the Great Depression or before the Civil War, where the existing economic machine, built to solve problems faced many (7 or 8) decades ago is increasingly dysfunctional in the context of the present world. And the political system is incapable of fixing it. Strike that, it is unwilling to fix it because it is so entrenched in the system itself.

    The usual small and moderate nudges to the system are prescribed by the moderates, centrists, and some conservatives. Most conservatives and reactionaries want to press their foot down on the gas pedal even harder, thinking that will solve our problems. A few individuals on the margins are calling for substantial change, but they’re either ignored or cave in under pressure.

    Our politics are deadlocked and cannot prevent this whole thing from crashing. We’re going to be picking up the pieces for a whole generation. That, or we just slowly backslide and suffer in relative silence.

  19. Bolo

    I hate that I can’t type 8 with a “)” after it without the sunglasses smiley showing up… 🙁

  20. Mad Hemingway

    Oh you’re just being nice when you say those things. Stop being so optimistic, eh.

  21. c3

    blogging since 2003?

    blogosphere of the past?


    your kidding right?

    live by the blog -die by the blog.

    its been a 30 year media jump down the rabbit hole of virtuality.

  22. John

    Corporate media controls most of what the US electorate thinks, corporate lobbyists control what the government thinks and does through our highest bidder wins electoral process. The liberal impulses of the Democratic Party are driven mostly by wanting to stave off collapse, chaos and the results. And of course, the Republicans, being true reactionaries, would love that collapse and chaos to come so they could crush the response from the people.
    Until there is something like a parliamentary system, extremely limited money in elections and something like instant runoff voting to allow entry of new parties, people and ideas, the change will be tiny and insignificant. The only other way change will come is through great wars and total catastrophe. The Republicans would be more than willing to provide that. Given that choice, I’ll take the wimpy barely there uber cautious status quo Democrats.
    McCain would probably have already started the war with Iran. Health care would never have even been discussed.

  23. Marks

    Ian ignores the political reality

    that there were simply not enough votes to accomplish what the progressives wanted to pass and, believing their responsibility to their constituents trumped ideological purity, they acceded to the compelling reality that a less than perfect bill that moved the process in a decidedly better direction was superior to doing nothing. Ian is an ass on this issue. It’s easy for him to stick to his prissy convictions having the full benefit of Canadian health care: he has no skin in the game. I am an unemployed 56 year old American with three kids and pre-existing conditions and I applaud the courage of the progressives to get beyond allowing the perfect being the enemy of the good. For many of us this ain’t a parlor game, Ian.

  24. Prissy Canadian my sweet Aunt Fanny. Obamacare is going to force me to pay money I don’t have to purchase a defective product that won’t deliver when needed, all to support corporate profit margins — or be subject to IRS enforcement action if I don’t pay a fine. Since my best option is going naked, that’s what I’ve been doing. Don’t talk to me about skin in the game, Marks.

  25. Rick

    Spot on Ian.

    Yet, for many, I think this will also be a watershed moment. This is precisely the kind of sell-out that wakes some people up. So I wouldn’t say the netroots is dead, exactly. I would say we’re going to see who the progressives are and who aren’t. Turns out there really aren’t that many progressives or liberals, or at least that’s the conclusion I reached after thumbing through comment threads at dKos and finding that roughly half or more of them are in fact Right-Wing Authoritarian Followers. Solely dedicated to their own Dear Leader.

    Time and time again, Ian, I keep recalling your post a while back about how the “progressive moment” people have sought is basically a foregone conclusion… and that we might get a chance again after the placeholder Obama leaves to be replaced by a more viscerally fascistic Thug. This is most likely the case, methinks. That post was as prescient as it was succinct.

    It seems to me, though, that things may be a tad different this time. I could be wrong, of course (and probably am), but this time isn’t like the “last time” we had to witness this kind of total sell-out. When Clinton co-opted the “progressives” last time, the nation wasn’t beset with a plethora of crises in areas one could reasonably call “survival issues.” This period is more like the 30s than it is like the 90s, what with the devastation of the middle classes being in full swing now.

    Mass unemployment (which will not be abated under the current neo-liberal regime), mass homelessness (ditto) and the kind of rampant corruption which is so very well out in the open for all to see…. well, it just makes me think the ruling elites are morons to think there isn’t a major blowback coming.

    Well, there is a blowback coming thus far in the form of the corporate funded and managed Tea Bagger Bigot Parade & Choir, of course. I just can’t see them really grabbing the polity by the short and curlies the way the mediots and elites envision. They’re just too nasty for most people.

    So there’s an opening there. Whether the progressive community can grow into an actual movement and seize that opening is another matter.

    One thing is certain though: the current “progressive leadership” has to be tossed out with yesterday’s fishwrap.

  26. masslib

    Marks, as someone who lives with these reforms and can’t get insurance, it’s not a parlor game for any of us.

    I agree completely, Ian.

    And, the notion that there were “not enough votes”, or that universal Medicare was necessarily “off the table” is an excuse activists and liberals in Congress give themselves for their acquiescence to this administration and the corporate body of the US Senate. The only reason there was even a discussion of a “public option” was to splinter off supporters of a single payer health system and the only reason that was necessary is because no matter what the President was saying there was tremendous grassroots and popular support for public insurance. When I see people readily excusing Congress and the President, even congratulating them, for enacting an expansion of the private health insurance industry via corporate welfare, I have to wonder, will they ever recognize that they gave too much deference to the political process and the politicians in this debate and they failed?

  27. Marks

    Ever had a sick kid? A year and a half ago my oldest twin had a kidney infection. One whole day in the ER. Four days in the hospital. Total bill $26,000. I had insurance. I paid a $500 deductible. Health insurance really sucks, it is so much better to go bare and risk bankruptcy than to have 30 million Americans insured who were not previously.

  28. As usual, Ian, I suggest that your political model is broken, especially if it comes as a surprise to you that elected politicians change their votes based on changing circumstances.

  29. Z

    I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote, Ian.

    The best thing that could be said about the health care kabuki is that it laid this all out bare. And it’s been quite a spectacle …


  30. Ian Welsh

    Most people who go into bankruptcy due to medical bills have insurance. People need health care, not insurance. It’s nice that it worked for you, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone.

    Here’s something which WILL happen as a result of this bill: people who are not on Medicare will not be able to afford their medicine, due to the ban on reimportation and the increase in time before generics are allowed on the market. Many of them will die, others will go bankrupt.

    There is no denying that some people will be better off under this bill. There is also no denying that some people will be worse off. People will die who wouldn’t have without this bill, people will live who wouldn’t have without this bill. People will not go bankrupt because of this bill, people will go bankrupt because of the bill.

    The question is not “will some people benefit” or “will some people be harmed”, the question is “on the balance does this bill do more good than harm?”

    I come down on the side that says it does more harm than good. I may be wrong, I may be right. We won’t know for a good 10 years or so.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and eat crow.

    But I think I’ll be missing a meal.

  31. 64-year-old American, no health insurance for the last five years. This bill is a sham and a fraud, a complete capitulation to corporate interests.

    I completely agree with every one of Ian’s points and especially the language he used. And as Z says above, yes, the health care kabuki laid it all out bare, if it wasn’t obvious before.

  32. masslib

    Actually, this organization gave a good rundown of who would not have been helped and who would have under this bill from the film SICKO:

  33. I come down on the side that says it does more harm than good. I may be wrong, I may be right. We won’t know for a good 10 years or so.

    What would be your criterion in 10 years? How would you know that the universe in 10 years with this bill would be a worse one than the parallel one without it?

  34. Z


    There are rational arguments in favor of this bill, but there is no doubt that the progressives in congress caved/lied … it is on the record for God’s sake … and that the progressive infrastructure was ineffectual and, in the end, enabling.

    Principles are the backbone to any movement. Without them you’ll never move anything very far.


  35. Marks

    We will see Ian. No crow on the menu so far.

  36. Oh, you speak the truth in a sublime and concise fashion. I agree…and they didn’t really need Dennis’ vote.

    The reality will hit the road when people find out that this is an empty shirt of a bill. When the rate hikes roll in and the deductibles exceed the premiums, they’ll have nothing to say. That’s not far out. The self employed, of which I am one, are the tip of the spear in the coming insurance company beat downs. We’ve seen our rates go up 40-60% in anticipation of this bill and nearly double in the last 18 months. Thanks for nothing pseudo left wing.

    This is, btw, the end of the current Democratic Party. The level of this betrayal will be felt viscerally and the response won’t be pretty. Nothing, nothing at all for all this squandered political capital. But it was all by design. Obama and the rest of the lying liars never intended to do anything for the people. This is just a subsidiary of the parent company…the Wall Street bailout looting.

  37. Lori

    Just in case you have missed this, James Roosevelt, the chairman of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which docked half of the delegates from Florida and Michigan from the delegate totals, and awarded 4 of Hillary Clinton’s Michigan delegates as well as all of the uncommitted delegates from that state to Obama, is the chairman of Tufts Health Care. After the election, he went public with an opinion piece where he calls for the exact health care plan that Obama has just signed into law. Considering the fact that Michigan’s bill that moved the primary up passed on a party line vote with ONLY Republicans voting for the final measure, and Florida’s bill (also written by Republicans) contained a clause mandating a paper trail for electronic voting machines, docking Democrats half their delegates in those states is pretty harsh punishment. But that decision handed Obama the nomination.

    Here’s a couple links for you. How the bills which moved the primary dates up came to (this will make you sick):

    And this is Roosevelt’s opinion piece:

    The corruption with Obama is so deep and so thick and it has been obvious from the beginning. Just look at the fundraising tales even from the campaign of him accepting large donations from overseas with no documentation. The blatant lying on television. Remember the debate where he denied that his co-chair was a registered lobbyist? Remember that? Who lies like that? And consider Rezko. Obama is a guy that wanted to buy a multi-million dollar house and so he sought the help of a man whom he knew to be under federal investigation for bribing state officials. That’s some of the most blatant corruption I’ve ever heard of. It’s really staggering. And the blogosphere looked the other way.

    Obama was marketed in an identical way to George Bush and his audience (in many ways the same demographic that supported Bush) fell for it hook, line and sinker. I think the left side of the spectrum has never really experienced explicit, duplicitous marketing as the right commonly experiences since Nixon.

    Con artists keep their victims bound to them by involving them in their crimes. When the left fesses up to what they did, it’s going to be a tough day for them. Obama is a narcissistic, sociopathic, rightwing, misogynist and he is going to be almost as destructive as Bush.

  38. David H

    The “progressives” caving means that Obama has no need to ever again listen to anything they have to say on any issue. They have shown that when push comes to shove they’ll vote the party line. If anyone had any hope for future change based on a progressive model, that hope is now gone. They will be swept aside if not ignored until they get a backbone & stop reactionary legislation like this health care bill. It was clear that a large majority of Americans favored a public option yet it was never seriously considered. The question is how will this majority ever begin to wield the power they could have if well-organized.

  39. Ian, you’re not wrong about the negative impact of this bill but it’s gracious to consider it. It’s a Cluster f*#k Nation special.

    Here’s something for our to consider regarding this statement: “We won’t know for a good 10 years or so.”

    What we’ll know in months, not years, is the following:

    1) Not lifting of the preexisting conditions requirement for four more years. That will be the immediate slap in the face to many. Sure, your children can more from plan to plan right away. But ask yourself this. How many children have different plans than their parents? Taking preexisting conditions off the table for only children is truly cynical. Leaving it in place for adults for four years flies in the face of expectations. This will be an angry segment of the population.

    2) The impact be on premiums – they’ll keep going up. The tip-off is the self employed increases now. The small business program, based on tax breaks will see insurance premiums raised to stay about the same as they are now, using the tax breaks as a false discount. The self-funded plans, 54% of the population, will see no savings because big pharma is not controlled. That’s the market, except for Medicare and Medicaid.

    3) Guaranteed health bankruptcies. The economy will continue to struggle with very high unemployment. Someone will point out that we’ve got a health care law that does little but a bankruptcy law that puts people in the poor house due to medical bills. Then someone else will point out that the bills for medical care that result in those bankruptcies are “retail” hospital bills, more than twice the charges the hospital renders for anyone using just about any insurance. The failure to address this will simmer until it explodes.

    4) Gaming the system. The health insurance and big pharma folks have no respect for Obama. Their help in creating a national hate group that vilifies the president might have been a clue. They will do what they always do – seek maximum advantage, work the system, and make Obama and the Democrats look the fools (albeit, fools with lots of cash in their pockets).

    This is Waterloo alright, but for both parties.

  40. jomaka

    It’s too late, Diana. There’s nothing left in you that I can live with. You’re one of Howard’s humanoids. If I stay with you, I’ll be destroyed.

  41. ballgame

    Great link about the Sicko patients, masslib.

  42. selise

    The only reason there was even a discussion of a “public option” was to splinter off supporters of a single payer health system and the only reason that was necessary is because no matter what the President was saying there was tremendous grassroots and popular support for public insurance.


    masslib, do you think any of the po advocates gets that now?

  43. Well said, however if you set aside the insurance mandate, it seems like this dang bill cuts off various easy profits & nasty policy abilities of insurance companies.

    And tons of attorneys general are fanatically dedicated to bringing down the insurance mandate because its patently unconstitutional. Which it very likely is. However, it was such a giant carrot, it got the insurance companies actually on board with this bill.

    The old system seemed doomed to topple fairly soon, so is this one marginally less doomed? @ least rich people get taxed more for Medicare too.

    Everything and everybody sucks, but what sucks more? The system the GOP & insurance cos had frozen in place?

  44. DancingOpossum

    BDBlue, I posted that John Caruso line at TL, applying it to all Dems–which is full of people furious at Obama–and was tsk-tsk’d for it, the implication being that “enemy” is a hyperbolic overstatement.

    Even people who see through Obama still don’t get it. They still think there is hope in the Democratic Party. They still talk about it as if there is some possibility to salvage it.

    Obama is a liar, a con man, and a charlatan. If you are a liberal , he IS your enemy. He directly advocates for things that you oppose and things that hurt you. If that’s not your enemy, who is?

    For me, the realization that the party for which I had supported for 25 years was dead to me hit during the Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting — which Lori once again documents beautifully and links to Obama’s profound corruption. (The journalist Evelyn Pringle and some Chicago journos, by the way, have been onto Obama for a very long time but they were fogged out by the HopeyChangey-miasma). I’m so done with them it isn’t funny.

  45. dandelion

    I worked as a health insurance executive for 10 years. This bill is a huge boon to the health insurance industry. I’m amazed at the number of people commenting on this bill who don’t understand the health insurance business model. People assume that forcing them to cover pre-existing conditions or limiting them to an 85% loss ration will rein in their profits — that the insurance companies too are having to take some kind of “haircut.”

    But insurance companies DON”T make their money from the spread between premiums in and claims paid. They make their money due to the time value of money — via investment. In most cases, they can count on anywhere from 90 days to 180 days use of cash flow in before they pay out on an incurred claim, and in that time period they are moving vast sums of money in and out of financial vehicles. THAT’s where the profit comes from. THAT’s why boosting their cash flow in by 30 million more paying customers is a huge huge windfall. And I’m 100% certain they need this windfall because they were probably holding a whole lot of paper in CRE and MBS.

    Sure, they’ll cover pre-existing conditions. But they know how to rate for that, and the overall population premium tables will rise to account for that. They didn’t cover pre-existing conditions before because they were afraid of the costs — that had nothing to do with it. Exc luding pre-existing conditions was a way to prevent adverse selection and what’s known in the industry as the “death spiral” which comes when people only buy insurance when they know they need it. With the mandate in place, covering pre-existing conditions is a snap and won’t impact their bottom line one iota.

    My problem with this bill is that it further entrenches the insurance industry in our health care system. If you think we have a problem with Too Big To Fail banks — where we can’t rein banks in without “destroying a huge sector of our economy” — well, we’ve just taken one gigantic step toward creating Too Big To Fail insurance companies. Which only makes single payer that much more distant.

    This is not a step toward any kind of national health plan. This is a gigantic step away from that.

  46. selise writes:

    masslib, do you think any of the po advocates gets that now?

    I can answer that, because I don’t “get that” now. It has certainly worked out that way, for many reasons. That doesn’t change the fact that the PO was more politically palatable. People who were happy with their private insurance wouldn’t fight an option to have government health care, where they would have fought mandated government care. Single payer also would have largely eliminated the health insurance industry, which clearly would have resisted.

    Obama could have just as easily sworn up and down he would implement single payer during the campaign and gone back on his word. If he’d told a lie that was unbelievable, people might have been less credulous.

    Sometimes, stupid things happen because people are stupid. In the absence of proof of such a conspiracy, I’ll take that theory as a potential plot point for bad science fiction.

  47. Es-tonea-pesta

    This post looks like inappropriate hand-wringing to me. People are finally admitting that they shouldn’t have faith in politicians, and this is a bad thing? People should persist in trying to elect seemingly good-intentioned people and then hoping they will do the right thing even if we have no leverage over them? No, this seems to me more like a teachable moment.

  48. Marks, I’m another of the people with, to use your idiotic phrase, “skin in the game”. I need insurance, but any insurance I was able to buy wouldn’t cover what I need it to cover. That will be as true in 2014 as it was a week ago.

    The example of the sick child you cite is ironic for two reasons. First of all, roughly twenty percent of people “covered” by the Massachusetts health insurance plan, which is similar to the one just passed, cannot afford to get the medical care they need. They are, however, obligated to buy insurance.

    Second, if you don’t already have insurance, you wouldn’t be able to buy insurance even in 2014. Check the comments of that link, BTW. Someone took the trouble to skeptically analyze its claim.

    The point you should take from Ian’s article, and clearly haven’t, is that argument from consequences cuts both ways for a bill like this.

  49. I have to disagree with the assertion that our so-called progressive politicians are gutless. They have the balls of a brass gorilla.

    They lie, cheat and steal without a shred of conscience or any fear of getting caught.

    The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is the Republicans are more honest – they don’t pretend to be our friends while picking our pockets.

  50. The Republicans don’t pretend to be our friends? When did that happen? They don’t pretend to be the friends of liberals, but a day that goes by without one of them lamenting how Democrats’ actions hurt ordinary people is a pretty rare one.

  51. DavidByron

    Maybe it is time to get some distance…”

    Maybe it is time to get some distance from the Progressives.

  52. Cujo359, in this case i actually do think there was a conspiracy – not by bloggers, who by and large i think just got punked, but by dem party insiders who put forward the idea of a public option, i suspect as cover for the mandate. i refuse to write “the” public option, because there isn’t one. it’s a marketing gimmick, not a policy. if policy was anywhere on the agenda, stark’s hr 193 would have been a bill for po advocates to rally around (instead of substance free talking points or even hacker’s proposal).

    anyway, the more i read of the roots of hcan and the herndon alliance and the bogus polling that was used to justify the whole thing, the bogus policy that was put forward and the dishonest propaganda that was used to sell it — and yes, how it has worked out in the end — i have no other explanation that fits the evidence.

  53. oakland

    dailykos taught me to zip up my wallet in 06. In 08, it became very apparent it was the new DNC website. It is hard to have much enthusiasm for progressive media or reform when you realize they are simply propaganda machines for the Democrat Party and mirror images of the Rush and Hannity of the world.

  54. kenmeer livermaile

    “What I take from this is that most progressive bloggers believe that we should just assume that politicians are liars and not take them at their word. Is that really what they want to argue? That all progressive politicians, every single one, are liars who won’t keep their word?”

    I think “all” is too big a word to use, and I also think that when dealing with a political lottery, dogmatic moral absolutes will be squeezed through the sieve with everything else.

    I think we would all do politics better if we stopped expecting politicians to be anything but flawed people who managed to get themselves elected and the maneuver through the most confusing, corrupting, tempting and disillusioning culture this side of divorce attorneydom.

  55. Flame away folks, but Ian, there weren’t the votes in Congress for a good bill and there was no support in the executive branch for such a thing. More, there was no support among the main constituencies of more liberal members of Congress for walking away, none. Even that *sshole Stupak pissed off a lot of his voters for threatening to tank the deal in a much more conservative district. A lot of people just wanted this done and it was going to happen one way or the other.

    I could have written a few more angry blog posts or emails maybe, but I really don’t think it would have helped. I’m trying to look on the bright side, that maybe it will have legitimized the idea that government can do something about a few of these issues–and the same polls that show support for public coverage also show that few people know what’s in the bill–and maybe it gets us a vehicle through which to go back and tinker. Re the Hyde-Stupak-Nelson abominations, I try not to think about it except when I’m thinking about it, if that makes any sense.

    I’d contrast the situation with that of the energy bill. There, you’ve also got a bill that’s probably going to be a net loss, though with a few small improvements, will probably cut the EPA out of the carbon emissions regulation game going forward, and will massively enrich polluters. The difference is mainly, imo, that it’s not nearly considered the necessity that health care was, and doesn’t nearly have the kind of public resonance. Support for doing something about our energy problems is a mile wide and an inch deep: virtually no one can swing votes on it, public interest is declining, and even a billion dollars a year in environmental advocacy spending does very little to move the needle. That thing could be killed remorselessly, I think, because local actions seem to be more effective and no one would really miss the damn thing except the Chamber of Commerce and people trying to pass a bill just for the sake of saying they did.

    Anyway, I don’t blame people for being angry about the health insurance bill. But progressive activists were fairly peripheral to this whole business, except for providing just enough leftward pull that we actually got people on the teevee to talk about a public option in public. And whatever problems anyone has with congressional progressives, getting mad at a group of bloggers and activists that many of them are either indifferent to or hostile towards really isn’t going to resolve them.

    I get the idea reading through comments here and there that there are those who think that having one’s very own blog with a largish-by-blog-standards readership and a few (nearly always poorly) paid writers constitutes actual political power. It doesn’t. It often barely confers a living, where it doesn’t actually impede making a good living. We did what we could with the tools that we had and mostly got diddly squat for it except to be told by single-payer advocates that we were sellouts and by insiders that we were rocking the boat and ruining everything by talking about the public option. You’re welcome.

    And I loathe the usual ‘everybody’s yelling at me so I must be on the right track’ arguments. This probably sounds like that. I just don’t think that not yelling more about how disappointed I am makes me an evil traitor to either a greater cause or my own ideals from back when the blogosphere was obsessed with pie and predictably featured a biennial ‘where the women bloggers at?’ thread on at least one major, all-male blog, without fail, until about the time when those blogs started inviting women to write on them.

  56. Ian Welsh

    I’ve got a pretty good idea how much power blogs have, having written for or edited everything from tiny blogs to large a-list blogs.

    What I object to is bloggers gilding turds and enabling betrayal. After spending a year screaming for a public option, then shrugging and saying “hey no big deal and too bad about how women lost abortion access” doesn’t cut it with me.

    And I know how the sausages are made at progressive blogs and what the funding models are.

    Whatever: I continue blogging primarily out of loyalty to my readers. No one is paying me and I don’t need anyone to pay me to blog.

  57. I know that you blog purely because you believe this stuff. And I’m surprised to come back to this discussion and not find 10 pile-ons from the other commentors, though a reasonable comment from you shocks me not at all 🙂

    Anyway, I don’t think those losses are acceptable, but again, I don’t know what more I could have done about them except make myself a more completely nervous wreck. I can’t, obviously, speak for everyone else, but I got that sense from the other editors at OpenLeft, as well. You look for something to be happy about or you couldn’t stand to look at all.

    Right before the Stupak vote, which everyone in the know on ‘our’ side was practically promised wouldn’t happen, Planned Parenthood and NARAL, etc., finally woke up and realized that they were going to get a massive public kicking. They fired up the email lists and got people making phone calls and they … well, got nothing.

    The die was cast. Plenty of the people congratulating the leadership would far rather we had a health system out of this that would meet your approval, but wanting it harder just wasn’t working.

    Going forward, I think the progressive blogs will probably go back to making the case for the type of health reform that we were all talking about during the election and before the actual bill got underway. There probably will be chances to come back and take another bite at this now, or, at least that’s what I’m told. There is a public constituency for health reform, but the majority of those most likely to support seemed lined up behind Pelosi and Obama for this round.

    I haven’t been at all the same blogs you’ve been at, but I hope that in time you’ll come to think less harshly of the rest of us. And I do hope myself that this isn’t the end, but merely a point of pause before the next skirmish.

  58. Ian Welsh

    No pile on because this is a post 3 posts down. 🙂

    Everyone in the “know” on our side is usually wrong. I knew we were going to get, forgive the word “screwed” over on this. I have the advantage of being just enough on the inside to get the insider zeitgeist and enough on the outside that I don’t get hand-held.

    Hearing virtually every a-list blog other than FDL say that this bill was better than nothing, and that losing the public option (which they spent the last year whipping for) wasn’t a big deal, makes me kind of ill. You may not agree, but the primary voice of Open Left is Chris Bowers, not you.

    I also think this bill is worse than nothing for overall policy reasons, as I’ve noted before. I’m in the decided minority on this, but I’ve been in the decided minority on a lot of policy issues, and been right on many more of them than I’ve been wrong. Could be this will chalk up in the wrong category and I’m suffering hubris, but…, well, obviously, I don’t think so.

    Also feel, and it irritates me at a profound level, that the attitude of many blogs has become very loyalist. I didn’t get into blogging to support Dems (the advantage of being a foreigner, I guess, is I have no partisan attachments in the US), and I think that if this bill had been proposed and passed by Republicans (and it was originally proposed by Republicans, in the 90s) most bloggers would be aghast and in opposition.

  59. Also feel, and it irritates me at a profound level, that the attitude of many blogs has become very loyalist. I didn’t get into blogging to support Dems (the advantage of being a foreigner, I guess, is I have no partisan attachments in the US), and I think that if this bill had been proposed and passed by Republicans (and it was originally proposed by Republicans, in the 90s) most bloggers would be aghast and in opposition.

    Which is ***not*** a sign of inconsistency. Who passes it actually does matter, even if it is the same bill.

  60. Ian Welsh


  61. In an nutshell (despite my apparent army of detractors I have to go shortly): because perception matters. People associate each party with a collection of values and ideological tendencies—still. Passage of a big bill on the (R) side is evidence for the tide of history being behind that set of values. The same bill on the (D) side is evidence for the other.

    As long as the policy itself does not involve eating puppies on camera, at present its actual success or failure is secondary. If the Democrats lose the House in November, it won’t be because of their passage of the health care bill, but despite it. Why? Because the worst parts only kick in in 2014…

    You can have good perceptions without good policy, but you can’t have good policy without good perceptions: you have to get elected. But the number of politicians who still have careers after supporting bad policy is quite large. That’s because the perception mattered more. Policy passes through a black box of voter psychology before the ballot is marked. Politicians and interest groups know this and pay researchers a lot of money to find (often proprietary) models of that black box. And they aren’t just polling.

    Now that the Democrats have what is perceived to be a big legislative accomplishment, that at least allows room for boosting the image of the mentally associated set of values. That doesn’t mean it will do that, it just means that the logjam itself is a little more broken.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén