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Public Option Duplicity Revisited: Yet More Evidence of Obama Spinelessness

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One of the defenses I occasionally hear about the Obama sellout to financiers runs something like this: “Obama isn’t interested in finance and economics, he delegated that to Summers and Geithner. Indeed, it was because he was so insecure in this area that he went with established figures who could [to use that horrid expression] hit the ground running.”

The logic resembles the “good king” argument made by contemporary defenders of Louis XVI: the courtiers surrounding the king kept the truth of what was happening to his subjects from him. Oh, if he only knew, he would certainly behave differently.

That explanation didn’t cut much ice with the angry French mob when the revolution broke out, and shifting blame onto key staffers won’t do much for Obama when the 2012 presidential elections roll around.

Proof that Obama’s failings are ones of character and experience comes from an area that was the centerpiece of his election campaign, an area in which he professed to have considerable interest, namely health care reform.

One of the big disappointments of the health “reform”, from the liberal perspective, was the abandonment of the public option. But Obama had never seem committed. Indeed, one of the truly bizarre features of the town hall debate fiasco was the failure of Team Obama to hit on the obvious argument to rebut the hysterical objection to it, that it would be “socialism”: “We have a very successful and popular government funded health care program now. It’s called Medicare. We want to build and expand on it.”

Glenn Greenwald was pilloried for pointing out the at best limp wristed Obama support during tortuous horse trading on the bill. But as he discussed yesterday, more disclosures have proven what everyone suspected, that Team Obama was never serious about the public option, and always regarded it as a bargaining chip:

What Daschle said here — in his interview with Volsky and, apparently, in his new book — is crystal clear, and is consistent with what has long been clear: despite its stream of public statements to the contrary, the Obama White House made no efforts to have a public option in the bill because their secret, early agreement with “stakeholders” was that no public option (and thus no real mechanism of competition with private industry) would be created.

What I find surprising about the excitement about this “revelation” (see David Dayen for recap) is that it comes as news to many people in what purports to be the left in this country. I must confess to having been only a casual follower of the health care bill machinations, yet it was blindingly obvious that Obama wasn’t committed to much of anything in the bill, but getting something, anything passed that looked enough different to be able to be dressed up as an accomplishment, at least in that never-never land in which Obama lives, where every policy shortcoming can and will be solved by propaganda.

There were plenty of indications that if Obama had put shoulder to wheel, he could have gotten more. From the far-from-Obama-friendly Wall Street Journal, when the public option was voted down in the Senate:

The two votes suggested that the “public option” is all but dead in the Senate, though it clings to life in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said it will be included in a bill to be brought to the House floor. The idea could still revive if the White House weighs in strongly on its behalf. Another possibility is the “trigger” option, where the public plan takes effect only if other steps fail to expand coverage and lower costs.

Obama pointedly ignored Democrat efforts to revive the health care option during the reconciliation process via the use of Medicare. The public story was that Lieberman, who had supported the idea previously, had reneged. Yet Obama has tended to give Lieberman a free pass for various transgressions despite his having betrayed Obama in the last election. Is Lieberman somehow untouchable, or could a more complex game be operating?

Ironically, this little tempest in a teapot says more about the efforts Team Obama has devoted to neutralizing critics on the left, so that people who dare speak the unvarnished truth like Greenwald are rejected as heretics. A more confident President would go after worthier and more important targets, meaning opponents to his agenda, rather than make sure he has an echo chamber among his constituents.

But that of course presupposes that Obama really intended to stand for something. It looks instead that his real aim is to merely be a placeholder, and create a lot of legislative bustle that produces little in the way of progress as a way to buy off opponents and create a useful smokescreen.

Update 5:45 AM: I’m late to review comments from yesterday, and a remark courtesy Emanilo Z, prompted by a Corrente interview of Paul Street, who was early to recognize Obama’s considerable shortcomings per his 2008 book, is germane. The quote comes (in the second derivative nature that the Web can sometimes take) from the Amazon review deemed most useful:

”As a state senator Obama held up a bill in committee that promised to deliver universal health care in Illinois and watered it down so that it merely called for the creation of a commission that would study how health care access might be expanded in the state.”

That seems to epitomize achievement, Obama style.

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35 comments

  1. attempter

    I must confess to having been only a casual follower of the health care bill machinations, yet it was blindingly obvious that Obama wasn’t committed to much of anything in the bill, but getting something, anything passed that looked enough different to be able to be dressed up as an accomplishment, at least in that never-never land in which Obama lives, where every policy shortcoming can and will be solved by propaganda.

    It’s always been much, much better to be a casual observer of Obama than one of the wingnuts emotionally committed to him. Obama support from the non-rich was always emotional and irrational. It had to be, since his record as a neoliberal con man was long well established and evident to anyone who paid attention, going back to the 90s.

    (If only it were true that Obama just wanted to go through the motions and pretend to pass reform. That would’ve been cynical but relatively innocuous, in that it would’ve left the destructive status quo in place but not made it much worse.

    But Obama and the Democrats are far more aggressive thugs than that. Relentlessly pursuing a policy predicated on an individual mandate with no cost controls was a radically aggressive act, a radical intensification of the criminal status quo.)

    BTW, One-Step-Forward-Two-Steps-Back Greenwald is only intermittently a teller of unvarnished truth. As per his usual pattern he backpedals in the same post:

    One can reasonably argue that entering into secret, backroom deals to please industry interests was a “pragmatic” thing to do, notwithstanding how often Obama railed against exactly such transactions during his campaign (remember the I’ll-put-all-health-care-negotiations-on-C-SPAN pledge?).

    No, one can’t reasonably argue that. (Although Greenwald put the word in quotation marks, the context clearly indicates that he thinks maybe they really did have to do that.) Not if one is a democrat (small “d”), and not if one truly seeks the good of the people and understands the politics of it.

    We know that demanding single payer was not only the only thing to do from the point of view of principle and policy, but was also politically the smartest thing. Those who did it would be applauded and rewarded by the people. But Obama and the corporate liberals want to be heroes only to rich thugs.

    (Of course those thugs rightfully have nothing but contempt for them.)

    What will Obama and the Democrat/Liberal establishment get for their treason? The rackets are already tacking to the Republicans. So they’ll be driven out of power at the least.

    One can also argue that the public option would never have gotten 60 votes even if Obama and the White House had pushed for it.

    Greenwald sure has a mental impairment where it comes to this sort of thing. He just got done writing that they used and therefore were willing to use reconciliation.

    Once again we have to ask Glenn Greenwald, Did you read your own post?

  2. rd

    Obama had a major chance to dump Geithner before he brought him on board. TurboTax-Gate was the perfect excuse (if not a primary reason) to do that, especially since there were numerous people, including myself, e-mailing and calling Senators protesting his appointment to Treasury.

    Obama REALLY wanted Geithner for Treasury, so I do find the argument that he is being led astray by people very disengenuous. There were plenty of other candidates who did not have their pawprints all over the financial crisis.

    Similarly, he did not have to re-nominate Bernanke since there was a lot of opposition to his re-appointment. Once again, there were plenty of other potential candidates who did not have their pawprints on the financial crisis.

  3. ella

    As we pay more and more for health care, we have less to spend. Less spending is detrimental to the consumer economy. As health care costs continue to rise, more Americans will see the fraud of “bending the cost curve”. Obama sold the public down the river for a promise of reduced cost by insurers, hospitals, and Pharma. Now, many will distrust the D’s to manage health care.

    Only a public option would have provided true competition. But of course Obama did not want competition, nor did Congress. What will happen when the health care industry implodes due to cost so high few will be able to pay? And what will become of the health of the public? As it declines and we are less and less productive who will support the economy, the tax base and the military. Have we truly forgotten what national security means?

    For many Americans their health care costs are 20-30 of their gross income. And yet their wages are falling. The middle class depends on earning enough to pay for their cost of living. The cost of living has outstripped incomes for years. Many Americans depended on debt, which was a substitute for income. The debt hangover must not be paid for, as the debt is paid down demand for goods and services has fallen. New credit is harder and harder to obtain. As the cost of goods and services in the real economy (not the phony CPI) continue to rise, we will be forced to pay more and more for the basics. The GDP will likely fall as a result.

    Reducing the cost of health care with a public option would have given us the ability to afford a middle class life style. That extra income would result in demand, demand would increase hiring and lower unemployment, and raise the GDP. We would be healthier and more secure in knowing that we would receive medical care at a reasonable cost. Health security is a component of national security.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Well said: “Health security is a component of national security.” Indeed, and it puts American companies at a distinct competetive disadvantage to companies in more advanced countries. Other critical components are Social Security, equal-opportunity education, and employment. Yet this president gives every indication that he intends to further dismantle these fundamentals, as well — but never, ever touch our imperial military which now consumes half the federal budget. Manifest madness.

      Chris Hedges has a piece on our national descent into fascist insanity at TruthDig in “March to Nowhere” (the DC event), a searing indictment of a dysfunctional, unsalvageable Democratic Party:

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/march_to_nowhere_20101005/

  4. Koshem Bos

    The nomination of Geithner was an apparent payoff to Wall Street as well as Obama’s best indication that Wall Street is untouchable in his administration. It didn’t take a genius to understand that from the early days of the administration. Therefore, the claim that Obama was led by his nose economically is nonsense.

    Listening carefully and watching the events in the primaries in 2008 haven’t left much hope that he’ll make even a passable president. He was the weakest in the debates, he relied on brute force, i.e. huge gathering and cheating in caucuses, and pure racism, and he called Bill Clinton – the former “first black president” a racist.

    Of course, he was better the McCain; that isn’t much of consolation.

    The last quote in the update to the post is a bombshell, but everyone knew that Obama had the habit of avoiding the tough votes.

    I always believed the health care reform was intended to leave a personal mark in history rather than a real reform about which he could care less.

  5. Z

    IMO, it’s more deceitful than spineless to go against a campaign promise that 2/3rds of the people favored; even though he did it behind closed doors and tried to cover his tracks, it was pretty bold of him to even try to get away with it. And that’s the scariest thing about obama: he thinks he can bullshit his way thru anything. He actually enjoys playing the populace; you can see it in the way that he struts around during his campaign speeches as he plays to the basest elements of the crowds. Most people, even our sociopathic politicians, would be smart enough to be cautious in selling out the people this brazenly, but not him. He thinks that he is so smart and so charming that he can fuck us over and get away with it. He’s a nut in those regards and there exists no self-correction mechanism within him to change his corporate servile-common people sellout ways even when good sense should tell him otherwise.

    Z

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Very pithy (pissy) analysis. This tracks with Chicagoan Paul Street’s observation of Obama as narcissist in “The Empire’s New Clothes”.

  6. Mad Hemingway

    I voted early this week for November and most of my picks were Green Party.

    My mom was born in the Depression and she’s given up on the Democrats since Obama came in (Pelosi & Reid are also reasons).

    So, the question is, who will primary Obama. Right now, there’s no governor doing the kinds of things FDR when he was governor of NY. And nobody else for that matter that I’m aware of.

  7. EmilianoZ

    The Corrente people have argued that Public Option was always a red herring, Single Payer being the real thing.

    For some reason I had assumed PO was a stepping stone towards SP but Hugh thinks it’s a “bridge to nowhere”. My problem with this theory is that if it really were a bridge to nowhere it would have been a good strategy to concede it. It would have made the Dems look better and they might’ve won the elections. If the next step is the gutting of Social Security, then it would be better if it were executed by the Dems, in a sort of reverse “Nixon goes to China”, as argued by Corrente and Kevin_de_Bruxelles.

    But, maybe SP is simply taboo in the US. Yves seems to say the goal of PO is to create competition. However, every single industrialized country outside the US has a SP system. One can wonder if it’s at all possible to control HCR costs without a SP system.

  8. Nimrod

    A simple one-page bill that allowed anyone to enroll in Medicare at cost or a reasonable markup above cost would have done more good than the convoluted abomination that Obama calls healthcare reform, and it wouldn’t have costed taxpayers a penny.

  9. Honora

    I cringe when I hear how Medicare is supposedly successful. It is a bubble/Ponzi scheme not different than any of several others that are rightfully attacked on this site.

  10. Jackrabbit

    I used to think that MAYBE Obama’s ignorance and lack of leadership experience allowed his advisors to have undue leeway. As a result, Obama was being “played” to some extent but that once he became more knowledgeable and more confident (in office) he would assert more control.

    I mean, to run on “Change You Can Believe In” and then be “Business As Usual” would be political suicide, wouldn’t it? Just like “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Obama is too good of a politician to do that, right?

    But I have come to believe that his “selling out” was a conscious choice. In that is he not any different than the other pro-business “Blue Dog” Democrats, which seem to represent the American political center. That center is clearly controlled by the corporations, and as Barry Ritholtz recently noted: It’s You vs. the Corporations.

    The crucial issue for those of principal on the Right and Left should be publicly funded elections. Instead of bashing the Tea Party, the Left should make an effort to educate them on the importance of that goal.

  11. brian

    He’s not Jimmy Carter
    He’s Elmer Gantry

    In an early episode on Miami Vice, Julia Roberts (pre Pretty Woman)plays the girlfriend of a mobster

    As she said to Crockett
    “I like dating hoods (Republicans?) they are so more honest in their treachery”

  12. Stelios Theoharidis

    Although I voted for him, Obama was certainly not my first choice. Kuchinich, Biden, hell Edwards before his scandal seemed like a better option. It seems the Deans, Cory Bookers, Graysons are not in line to anything more than regional power at any point anyway. However, it has been the cities and states and not the federal governments that have been making progress on a number of fronts from sustainability, poverty reduction, to drug reform. Maybe the regional powers are the ones that we should be reinforcing politically.

    Obama’s finance guys were Clinton administration graduates, I could never make the statement in certainty but the other viable democratic alternative, Hilary Clinton, had significant support from the finance industry as well. Not to mention McCain’s relationship with Phil Graham. McCain has pretty much gone of the deep end in regard to immigration now. It appears none of the ‘viable’ candidates would have done anything different. That is the illusion of choice in politics.

    Daschle has been a healthcare “consultant” for some time now, what a prick. The big giveaway was actually collective bargaining on the part of medicare for drug purchases, that would have saved 35-50% on pharmaceuticals (per comparable systems). A public option or single payer is a long term structural change that would have paid off in time. Grayson’s buy-in option for medicare seems like the most easily implemented.

    If any of you know a few billionaires that are interested in the future of the US, tell them to endow a non-profit healthcare company, that will probably integrate the public option without the government’s hand in the deal. We could always pool together to create one. If the political process can’t achieve it then the public certainly can with a bit of elbow grease.

  13. Jim the Skeptic

    The public option was the best chance at cost control if there was no single payor system. But I don’t think the Democrats could have gotten it past the Republicans in the Senate.

    I voted for Obama and I don’t regret that. But he has been a disappointment. He should have realized that the Republicans were not interested in working as a loyal opposition party.

    He should have railed against them and their corporate supporters at every opportunity. He could have made their opposition cost them dearly. (I think they call it motivating you base.)

    He was naive.

  14. pebird

    This post brings up an interesting point – if these decisions were made early in the process – what does that say for the usefulness of the political debate?

    Basically, all that time discussing whether there would be a public option, what form it might take, non-profit exchanges, etc., was all a show – for what purpose?

    What calls themselves the left in this country had their time and energy wasted by their leadership. Neutralizing is absolutely the right term for this. The so-called left has been taken for a long ride to the end of the pier, and they still love the driver.

    The financialization of health care, the passing of a health insurance bill that does not ensure access to health care, is the crowning achievement of this Administration.

    They called it “Hope”, it is really hopeless.

  15. Sean

    This seems delusional to me. Independents have severely turned against Obama; what makes you think he could have challenged Lieberman and won? I don’t know how he could have gone further left when his current positions already blew up on him with the middle.

  16. emca

    I didn’t vote for B. Obama, but I don’t take much satisfaction in the fact.

    As some have mentioned here (more than once) Barack is playing true to earlier form, particularly in manipulation of his base; that it can be accomplished so easy is the only surprise and point of which I give the current President his due.

  17. billygoat

    There are multiple provisions in the healthcare law addressing cost control, and it will take time for them to become reality. Comparative effectiveness studies must be completed. Without doubt the regulators will be able to wring efficiency out of the system, the way Medicare has done over the years since the 1970′s (and admittedly, more needs to be done)Medicare DRG’s cut back hospital reimbursements while fees were set for doctor services.

    A sudden coup d’etat, in which the government dictated a thousand specific cost remedies would have guaranteed the death of the bill. The slow rollout of its implementation, seems to me a wise course. Time is needed to work out details and begin staffing up manpower both in the health industry and in the bureaucracy.

    I believe that a public option would not have passed in the Senate, nor Medicare for all. Obama got all he could get. We can be disappointed, but realize that this legislation is a work in progress.

    I am an MD and I can see lots of opportunity to eliminate waste and provide more care for the uninsured. The greatest savings however would be to eliminate the insurance industry.

    The Republican party offers nothing here. Those interested in progress in health reform better stay with The Democrats.

    1. jumpjet

      Obama could have called a special session of Congress and refused to adjourn them until they passed a far more leftist health care bill. It’s completely within his Constitutional powers to do so, and after a long enough time his fellow Democrats would have caved.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Billygoat, you mention Medicare and then imply that even a timid public option would have been a coup d’état.

      Medicare-for-all was, IMO, the perfect stepping stone, a model gift to even a mediocre speechwriter and a great moral cause for any genuine hope-and-change agent with a voice and a pulpit. All of the clarion moral arguments were there in the sunlight, not only Medicare here (a “govt takeover”), but the long track record of varied successful models in _civilized_ countries elsewhere, along with the poor measurable outcomes and double costs here.

      But there was not even a half-hearted effort from the president, or any serious airing on MSM. Instead, SP voices were conspicuously shutout from the get-go —precisely because they would have made far too much sense and already had significant public support. Single payer was denied a seat of a voice because it was too hazardous for Obama and his investors to let it take its first breath. It was a deliberate miscarriage, aka abortion.

      From Greenwald’s link: “One can reasonably argue that entering into secret, backroom deals to please industry interests was a “pragmatic” thing to do, notwithstanding how often Obama railed against exactly such transactions during his campaign (remember the I’ll-put-all-health-care-negotiations-on-C-SPAN pledge?). One can also argue that the public option would never have gotten 60 votes even if Obama and the White House had pushed for it. But one cannot argue that the White House did push for it, or even that they wanted it, since it was part of their deal with industry and its lobbyists from the start that it would not be in the final bill.”

      It was crystal clear to many that the fix was in when Obama signaled his tepid support using the ‘belt-and-suspenders’ metaphor. From Salon’s “Obama’s Just Not That Into You” —”This is sort of like the belt-and-suspenders concept to keep up your pants,” he said. “You know, the insurance reforms are the belt. The public option can be the suspenders.” ‘Can be the suspenders?’ his is just too cute, clever—and obvious. The only ones in suspenders are those of the tux-class attending his $30K/plate fundraisers.

      http://mobile.salon.com/news/feature/2009/08/21/obama_liberals/index.html

      “It’s the best he could get”. The 59-vote excuse has become so lame and tiresome (infuriating to some of us), especially when GWB _always_ got his agenda through with just 51 (without even breathing hard). Joe Lieberman was just the obvious fall guy for Obama and fellow corporatists who needed cover. And the supposed panic over an honest-to-God filibuster (which the American people would eat up with popcorn) just underscores the absolutely useless duplicity and cowardice of the Democratic Party and the de facto reality of the duopoly.

      We don’t have to wait until 2018 when this monster is in full bloom to know it is a Trojan horse ‘gift’ to the people from the kleptocracy. Costs are already rising and coverage for kids withdrawn.

  18. Hugh

    I’m with attempter on this. I was asked to add my voice to the public option. I refused. It was apparent from the start that Obamacare was nothing more than a sellout to Big Insurance, Pharma, and Medical. There were so many tells. First, it was all about coverage, not care. Second, single payer, the option which in its various manifestations has been shown to work in essentially the rest of the industrialized world, was taken off the table from the start. Third, the public option was so ill defined as to be undefined. Even so, all through the debate it became smaller and smaller. We used to call it the Amazing Shrinking PO. By the end, it would have covered next to nobody and been generally uncompetitive.

    EmilianoZ asks why wasn’t it just left in then. The answer to that is that insurance, pharma, and medical had won. There was no need or reason for them to compromise on anything. And they didn’t.

    As for billygoat’s contention that cost controls are coming, it is important to remember that of $948 billion in projected savings over 10 years from Obamacare, $419 billion of those, the biggest contributors, were cuts to Medicare and Medicaid ($309 billion in “savings” + $110 billion in “productivity” adjustments to Medicare)

    http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20090618114504/http:/www.whitehouse.gov/MedicareFactSheetFinal/

  19. Billygoat

    Hugh, the Medicare cut involves rescinding a subsidy to insurance companies for the advantage program.

    So, with all this gnashing of teeth over the flawed legislation, where will we be when it is repealed or emasculated because disappointed Democrats lack the spine to fight for it’s improvement.

    OK, Obama made deals up front and avoided the all out Harry and Louise
    Assault by the industry. Now they want to take control and undermine the further development of progressive policy and administration.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Okay, I’m cynical. The point of my teeth-gnashing was that the HC bill is not just flawed; it’s a Trojan-horse trap, IMO, like the lesser-evilism in staged elections upon which the duopoly relies (or the non-withdrawal from Iraq). Brian’s quote from Julia Robert’s character, above, is priceless: “I like dating hoods (Republicans?) they are so more honest in their treachery”

      I hope Progressive Ed is right, but I don’t trust Obama’s intentions any more. Obama can do far more damage as a wolf in sheep’s clothing than a naked wolf. Clinton taught us that with NAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall and many other stealth Wall Street bills. Obama hired all the same gravediggers. Watch out for Social Security “reform” after the midterm “change” in control of Congress.

    2. Hugh

      Actually this is what the fact sheet has to say about that:

      “Reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers. The establishment of a competitive system where payments are based upon an average of plans’ bids submitted to Medicare would save taxpayers close to $177 billion over 10 years, as well as reduce Part B premiums.”

      Overpayments are not the same as subsidies although both are to the advantage of the private plans. The effect of this looks like it would shift costs to seniors in terms of higher premiums. This would effectively be a cost increase for them because they would be paying more for the same services. And the $177 billion is less than half of the $419 billion in expects savings/cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

  20. Progressive Ed

    By his own words over many years, it’s clear that the Emperor is committed to bringing a NHS to the USA. O’bamacare is simply on the road to a NHS. O’bamacare in its present version has two goals: the first is to bankrupt the private health insurance companies. The second is to make private health insurance so expensive for companies to provide for their employees that they no longer provide it.

    1. Hugh

      I can only think you haven’t been paying attention. There is zero evidence that Obamacare is a step beyond the sellout to insurance, pharma, and medical corporations that it is.

      This is right up there with the evidenceless meme that Obama, who has embraced all and expanded many of Bush’s radically conservative policies, is somehow a “socialist”.

  21. Doc Holiday

    File this under spineless bastard:

    Panel: Gov’t thwarted worst-case scenario on spill

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101006/ap_on_sc/us_gulf_oil_spill

    From the beginning, there was “a contradiction between discoveries and concerns by academic scientists and statements by NOAA,” MacDonald said in an interview with the AP at the oil spill conference.
    And he said it is still going on. MacDonald and Georgia Tech scientist Joseph Montoya said NOAA is at it again with statements saying there is no oil in ocean floor sediments. A University of Georgia science cruise, which Montoya was on, found ample evidence of oil on the Gulf floor.

    Pathetic that Obama still looks as bad as Bush … pathetic retards like these will soon be joined with Palin … God help America!!!!!

    1. emca

      Yeah, just caught it.

      Here’s a money quote from the via the Guardian from the Commission Report:

      “By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem”

      /Yves, you need to get on this :)

  22. billygoat

    Hugh,

    I think the advantage medicare system allowed the insurers to charge medicare a premium while the insurers cheated the enrollees, by forcing them into an inferior HMO system with no choice. The insurers hired an inferior bunch of providers and paid them less than the going rate. Patients thought they were getting a deal, because they got vision or pharma benefits.

    I am extremely happy with my Medicare plan because there is no limit on care and the providers usually accept the standard payment. It is so good it can’t last. More oversight will be needed for sure just as with the new health legislation.

    We have the nose under the tent now with the new health care plan. Obama is genuine on this, no sellout, only a temporary compromise. It’s too bad the public doesn’t recognize this.

  23. Hugh

    Obama is a Blue Dog status quo corporatist. View him this way and his actions across the board have been amazingly consistent, not just on legislation but also where, as executive, he can act independently of Congress. View him your way and you have to add in all kinds of caveats and qualifications. It is all about 11 dimensional chess, the best he could get under the circumstances, temporary compromises, etc. But these are, in fact, suppositions. There is no evidence for them and much evidence against them. None of this explains why single payer was taken off the table from the start. Or why as Daschle says, and many of us knew, the PO only looked like it was on the table when it was actually dead from the start as well.

    I just don’t see it as a very informative approach to put the best reading on what Obama does and then ignore everything else.

    1. emca

      Obama lost me for good on FISA, telecom immunity to spy on your fellow citizens at the behest of government (this after saying he was going to work to have the provision for retroactive immunity removed). His excuse at the time for the vote – I’ll fix it later when you vote me president.

      This quote:
      “So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

      Kind of airily sententious, full of inference and meaning nothing.

      Can this guy salvage his compromised morality from the precipice of despair and disbelief or what?

  24. billygoat

    It’s beyond my expertise to analyze how many Senate votes there were for PO. I do know the Blue Dogs were fearful for their lives and caved quite early.

    Besides, to pass legislation for the PO would have taken at least another 1000 pages and involved an endless battle over minutiae with the states. Remember “states rights”. Just think of the games that Boehner could have played on that one.

    Anyhow, I am a believer in incremental reform, as I believe Obama is. I refuse to believe Obama is a corporatist. I believe he has to bend over backwards not to come across as the angry black man.

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