The Foolish Strategery of Democrats Who Oppose Health Care Reform

by: Mike Lux

Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 11:30

For some perspective on the wisdom of the Democrats who are opposing health care reform, let's go the elections last Tuesday. New polling analysis from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Women's Voices Women's Vote is pretty powerful, and I recommend it to all the Democrats who voted no on the health care bill and every single one of their political consultants: the bottom line, friends, is that everything you do to depress Democratic voter turnout in your district is another nail in your coffin.

Analysis and argument in the extended entry.

Mike Lux :: The Foolish Strategery of Democrats Who Oppose Health Care Reform
Greenberg has put together an overlapping collection of demographic groups that he calls the Rising American Electorate: unmarried women, 18-29-year-olds, African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color. When you add them all together (taking away overlaps), they are currently 52.1% of the voting age population in this country. These demographic groups all share certain characteristics:

  • They are all increasing as a % of the adult population, because their growth in the population is outstripping the growth of other demographic groups

  • They all tend to under-perform in terms of coming out to vote, although how much changes dramatically depending on the election

  • They all tend heavily Democratic in their voting, as opposed to the rest of the electorate which votes far more Republican

  • They all tend to have more strongly progressive issue views than the population as a whole

  • They all average less in income, and have higher unemployment rates, than the population as a whole

  • They all have higher rates of lacking health insurance than the population as a whole

So let's go back to the VA and NJ numbers. In VA in 2008, the percentage of voters in that Rising American Electorate group was 45%. In the 2009 VA electorate, the RAE % dropped to 36%. In NJ in 2008, the % of the electorate that was in the RAE category was 49%, whereas in 2009 it was only 39%. These RAE voters didn't come out to vote because they were discouraged that Democrats that they had invested their faith in weren't delivering tangible benefits for their lives.

The Democrats in marginal districts who are patting themselves on the back for taking the "safe" vote by voting no on health care reform are fooling themselves, and in a great many cases dooming themselves in the next election. If the part of the electorate that strongly favors you drops by 10% (or more) in the next election, do you really think you can win a competitive race? And does not helping your party and your President deliver health reform help you or hurt you in turning out the Democratic vote? I'll let the geniuses advising these members of Congress to vote no try to explain that one.

The Democrats who oppose health care reform are also hurting themselves in a lot of different ways besides depressing turnout:

  • They damage the brand of the Democratic Party as an effective party that can get things done

  • They hurt the approval rating of the President they will need campaigning and raising money for them next year

  • When Democrats like the President nationally are making the case as why Dems in 2010 deserve re-election, they will use the passage of health care reform as their number one selling point, leaving you on your own to explain why you deserve re-election

  • They lessen their ability to raise money from all those Democratic activists and interest groups who care about health care

  • They dampen the enthusiasm of volunteers back home

  • They dramatically increase the likelihood of primary opposition, in 2010 and beyond (do you think Democrats back home, and the progressives who fund primary campaign challenges, are ever going to forget that you tried to kill health care reform?).

I was in the Clinton White House in 1994 after we lost on health care, and these same demographic groups- young people, Latinos, unmarried women- turned their back on us. I remember seeing the focus groups, and having the reports back from the doorknockers: these hard-pressed voters who had been so excited about Clinton in 1992 felt like he and the Democrats in Congress had let them down, and they had no enthusiasm for coming out to vote.

I look at Democrats like Altmire and Adler in the House (whose Democrats were won by Obama because of big turnouts by all those RAE voters), or Blanche Lincoln in the Senate who is up for election next year, and really wonder about their political judgment. If Lincoln opposes health care reform, she dramatically increases the odds that someone like Lt. Gov. Bill Halter will challenge her in a primary from the left (and that if he does, he'll get a lot of financial support from people all over the country), which would be a bruising fight costing a lot of money, and she virtually guarantees that less black folks, young people, unmarried women- i.e. the Democrats in Arkansas- turn out to vote in the general. I mean, even Walmart is supporting health care reform: how much more political cover do you need, Senator? The political thinking here is stunningly bad.

As a loyal Democrat, I hope these Democrats opposing health care reform come to their senses- not just for reform's sake, but for their own.

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Is "opposing healthcare reform" the same thing as (4.00 / 10)
opposing the current bill?

I tend to think not.

If the bill that comes up for a vote will not provide substantive reform, opposing it it the best choice, no?

How does it help the "Democratic Brand" to enact poor legislation?

Can this bill EVER get so watered down that you night stop shilling for it?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

the current bill hardly even qualifies as reform (4.00 / 4)
unless we were looking to reform the problem of every single American not helping fund the for-profit health insurance industry

[ Parent ]
Yo,Dude! Mike's Not Attacking Kucinich (4.00 / 6)
Kucinich isn't opposed to health care reform.

While I agree that a bad bill will also hurt Dems, it's actually the position that Mike's attacking which is largely responsible for making the bill worse and worse.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
counterpoint: this bill is really, really bad (0.00 / 0)
it's failure, while it wouldn't improve the situation on the ground, would at least spare us mandates and strengthening both big pharma and the insurance companies

[ Parent ]
It is bad ... (4.00 / 1)
but we do need to get moving on stuff .. and we can keep on pressuring them to fix it ... besides ... you know what will happen if we lose a couple of Senate seats in 2010 .. right?  Everything will come to a standstill .. so right now ... we have to pass something that won't come with an immediate backlash .. and keep improving it .. because inaction is not acceptable

[ Parent ]
but if the bill offers no improvements to the current state of things (4.00 / 3)
what's accomplished by passing it?  other than being able to go "look, we passed SOMETHING?"

the emptiest of all victories imo

[ Parent ]
It's not a done deal yet. (0.00 / 0)
No one is saying that whatever comes out of this will be better than nothing. I think the general thinking is that it is still possible to squeeze something out of this process that is better than nothing. But we have to keep fighting until the very end. In the end, if the insurance industry still opposes it, I will be inclined to think it's better than nothing.

[ Parent ]
might be a reflection of previous post (4.00 / 1)
from yesterday:

On the other hand, there are some Democrats I am appalled by. As a 30-year supporter of single-payer, and with full knowledge of the imperfections in this bill, I am angry that single-payer supporters Kucinich and Massa were happy to let any hope of health care reform for a generation die because the bill wasn't everything we hoped it would be.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, the attack was in his last diary. (4.00 / 1)
I am angry that single-payer supporters Kucinich and Massa were happy to let any hope of health care reform for a generation die because the bill wasn't everything we hoped it would be.

No that I mentioned Kucinich in my post. But you seem to know more about what I mean than I do, so I'll answer anyway.

Main question: If the cirrent bill is still worthy of support, how bad does it have to get before it loses Mike's support? Does he have such a point?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
How bad? (4.00 / 6)
"If the current bill is still worthy of support, how bad does it have to get before it loses Mike's support? Does he have such a point?"

For me, it's dangerously close already--Public Option in name only:

--Available only to a very small population, maybe < 5% of "Public."  How can you call it a Public Option if 95% of the people can't opt for it?
--Rates not based on Medicare + 5%
--Opt out possible and probable in many states.  Wanna bet TX gov Perry will declare an immediate special session to opt out?
--Will the "public" option be administered by insurance companies like the current Medicare Advantage?

And of course, the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

It seems that in the house, the leaders had to negotiate away everything that made the bill worthwhile to get those last few right wing Dems to sign on.

I'm with Senator Sanders:  This bill is not better than no bill at all, and yet if if becomes law, it will preclude any future attempts at real reform.  And the Republicans won't quit saying mean things about us just because we let them tailor a bill that they will vote against anyway.  

The White House and the Congressional Dems need a bill.  Might as well make them give us a good bill.  If it fails, the public will still be angry, but maybe not as angry as when they find out what the current bill does and doesn't do for them.  

[ Parent ]
This has nothing to do with Kucinich or Massa. (4.00 / 3)
If this bill is this bad and the Senate hasn't even touched it yet, we better pray that health care reform and the Democratic Party die.  FDR and Johnson have to be ROTFLTAO at this bunch of so called Democrats.

[ Parent ]
More like ROTF CRYING TAO (4.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
why do they oppose? (4.00 / 3)
If they oppose the current bill because it is government sponsored health care, then they do not support health care reform of any substantial kind.

I have serious reservations of this bill. Mandates without serious subsidies is not wise policy or politics. Taxing good health care benefits (in the senate bill), again not good policy or politics. Since the bill does little to change the dynamic of how powerful the insurance companies are, they will spend millions in lobbying and law suits to change the law so that they do not have to comply with the limitations imposed on them by the bill.

However, you and I, who cannot afford to pay lawyers millions to defend our interest will be forced to comply with the mandates.

If, as I fear, the end result of health care reform is that insurance companies continue business as usual and ordinary people are forced to purchase their increasingly crappy product, the fallout on Democrats will be severe and long lasting.  

But, the legislators who oppose this round of health care reform either because it is government sponsored health care, or they claim to be fiscal conservatives are responsible for this bill getting worse by the day. No other meaningful health care reform would not also trigger these same concerns, so in reality they do not support health care reform in any form.

Once again, they are not concerned with the left because they think we have no where else to go. But, they constantly miss the point that we can stay home and not vote. The Republicans clearly are bad and their solutions would make things much worse. But if the Democratic Party will not deliver meaningful reform which makes a difference in peoples lives, then yet another generation will lose interest in politics or conclude that both Parties suck, either way they will not vote for some time to come.

These so called moderates are destroying any chance we have making the needed reforms. So discouraging.

[ Parent ]
And you and so many others constantly miss the point (4.00 / 2)
... that casting a vote for a third party does not subtract a vote from either machine party but DOES send them a message.  If Nader had gotten 18.9% of the vote in 1992, Rahm would be working as the slimy lobbyist he is and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The D party has a lot of vested interest in making people think that a vote for any party but them is a wasted vote.  Like the Catholic Church or any other corporate marketing organization, they want market share and mind share and aren't afraid to have their people lie their asses off to get it.

[ Parent ]
Third Party or just a third party Candidate? (0.00 / 0)
Build a third party that is left of the Democrats and I will vote for it. The only thing closely resembling a third party is the Working Families Party in NY that was a spin off from the New Party which attempted to build party infrastructure from the local level up starting in the 90's. As far as I know, the WFP in NY is all that is left of the New Party initiative. The WFP is on the right track and I support their efforts 100%.

Running a candidate for President does not make a Party. Tell me, how many members does the Green Party have on school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures? How many Judges? How many Governors?

I did not bring up Third Parties. But, since you did, voting third party Candidates without a Party behind them, or not voting at all, not much difference.  

[ Parent ]
current bill (4.00 / 4)
Look, on a big complicated issue like health care, lots of folks, including you and I, will disagree over whether a bill is good enough. If the public option gets pulled, if the Stupak amendment stays in, if affordability for the middle class gets considerably worse, if insurance regs re pre-existing conditions, recissions, lifetime caps, etc get weakened- if any of those things happened, I would oppose this bill. But as it stands right now, I think it's a solid improvement over what we have now.  

[ Parent ]
Thanks for answering (4.00 / 3)
I'm pretty close to concluding that the "public option" that is being offered has effectively pulled it from the bill. If the government-run, non-profit option is so restricted in the number of people that can sign on and can be opted out of by partisan state legislatures, it won't be able to fulfill its purpose of reducing costs.

The inability to negotiate with big pharma for reduced prescription costs is another piece of an albatross.

I'm very leery of the whole concept of passing something, anything, then improving it later. Too many bad players and dishonest dealers in the mix.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Again With The Reality-Based Community! (4.00 / 10)

Versailles: The Dems lost in 1994, because of Clinton's "far left" agenda.

Reality: The Dems lost in 1994, because they didn't give their base a reason to turn out.

Versailles: The Dems are in trouble now, because of their "far left" agenda.

Reality: The Dems are in trouble now, because they keep on listening to Versailles.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Current crop of candidates not appealing to RAE (4.00 / 1)
Dems need to prepare for the fact that the RAE, as you call them, will not turn in substantial numbers until 2012. Maybe they will show up for Donna Edwards...but not for the majority of old white rich men running for Congress.

I think accomplishments like health care reform will mean more to traditional dem base. RAE are looking for change. Change in the way the candidates look, act and feel.

Mike .... (4.00 / 2)
Have you talked to the Capitol Hill people you know about this?  I don't know what "centrist" Congresscritters you know .. but have you been able to ask them about it?  Did they really think Deeds trying to out McDonnell McDonnell was a good idea?  And would lead to increased turn out?  it's all part of that DLC-type thinking

centrists (4.00 / 1)
The centrists up here mostly don't get it.

[ Parent ]
Actually.... (4.00 / 4)
...the demographic you mention will be the most adversely affected by the unfairness of this you are going to lose them anyway......see Ian Welsh.  

Telling people they HAVE to by some crap coverage.....(or face a hefty fine)....from the very industry that causes most of the problem is not going to be a winning platform for 2010 or 2012.  You can fool some of the people..... etc. Of course the Dems know this which is why most of the changes go into effect after those elections....but either way I doubt Massa or Kucinich will suffer fact for the reasons stated above, their opposition will probably help them, because this is a crap bill. The Dems are pissing down our legs and telling us it's raining.

What they should have done is included a REAL public option ...and if they had we would not be having this discussion.

I'm already planning to pay my fines (0.00 / 0)
because there's no way I'll be able to afford my mandated coverage

[ Parent ]
At this point we have to beef up subsidies (4.00 / 1)
and get them to the point where for most people the new mandate will be as financially unobtrusive as possible.

If people are now required to buy insurance but the government's paying for it anyway, it's a wash.

[ Parent ]
I salute your attempt (4.00 / 4)
to pound a tiny bit of reality-based logic into these blue dogs scrambled brains, but I suspect it is futile. In my opinion, their attempt to rationalize their douchbaggery based on flawed notions of what the voters want is simply bullshit. You can point out the flaws in their picture of voter sentiment, and it won't matter to them one bit, because they don't actually give a shit. They do certain things because some corporation pays them a truckload of money to do them. Then they justify it by saying it's what their constituents want. But it's pure bullshit.

These weasels have made the calculation that the people lining their pockets pay closer attention to all this stuff than the voters do. They are counting on all this corporate lobbyist money to buy them a shit ton of air time for their ads showing them smiling with kids and old people in front of a flag and an apple pie.

Your logic will not touch them because their flawed voter analysis is not a strategy - it's just a bullshit excuse to hide their real strategy which has absolutely nothing to do with the policy preferences of voters.

Here's a concept (4.00 / 3)
The Republicans, realizing that the "pulling the plug on Grandma" meme didn't cut it, decide to make the Democratic healthcare 'reform' their issue of choice. To do so, they have to throw their own cozy relationships with the healthcare industry under the bus - temporarily. (Through back-channels, they can assure the industry that they'll help them keep on fleecing the American public. Since they certainly delivered on this process while Bush was President, they actually have great credibility in this area.)

So, they run merciless ad campaigns, where they remind the public that no more than 5% or so of the public is expected to have access to the public option, and that while candidate Obama said he'd negotiate with Big Pharma on C-SPAN, President Obama's deep concern about American citizens' health led him to cut a back-stabbing deal with Tauzin/Big Pharma, leading to higher drug prices. Etc., etc.

Heck, they can read progressive blogs to get all the material they need for running ads that will make the Democratic brand poison, while simultaneously dropping Obama's approval ratings to below 50%. If they do a thorough enough job, then in some districts, having Obama (the president of "Obamacare") come stump for you might be as popular as having GW Bush stump for Republicans in 2008.

Now, hypocrisy is no problem for the Republican campaigners. Recall what a disgusting trick they pulled on Max Cleland. So, historically, that is not even an issue for them, at least in some races. The only real downside for the Republicans (integrity issues aside, which doesn't seem to be a factor for either Dems or Repubs) is how they respond if the Democrats mercilessly attack their record on healthcare. (Which will raise the question of why the Democrats, now in power, haven't corrected the Republican healthcare follies). Since the Dems are in power, and they are the ones who raised healthcare reform expectations, I believe that the Dems would lose such a propaganda war of attrition - badly.

Frankly, I believe that if the Republicans had any brains, they'd tell one or two of their members in the Senate to help break any filibuster attempt, so as to let the healthcare 'reform' become law ASAP. If the reform is as bad, overall, as some of us believe (even while simultaneously having some very good reform elements), then the Republicans could use this issue to rout the Democrats in 2010. But only if they 'help' the Democrats achieve their mandate-laden 'reform' legislation soon enough.  

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

The elements of a common madness (4.00 / 2)
There are two visions at work here:

1) Mike Lux's, the pragmatic wonk's vision. The coming reconciled bill, assuming we get that far, is certain to be, albeit marginally, better than what we have now. More importantly, if we don't pass it, the Democratic Party is screwed. Whatever you think of my logic, I consider that a bad thing. A VERY bad thing.

2) The progressive, hell-in-a-handbasket vision. Since the coming reconciled bill, assuming we get that far, will be something only a dung beetle, health insurance executive, or Catholic bishop could love, we should defeat it, and tell the Democratic Party to go fuck itself, and the horse it rode in on. Even the risk of chaos and a right-wing putsch would be preferable to being pissed on by the same lying hypocrites and grifters year after year after year.

Is there a middle ground? Possibly, but the signs and portents aren't favorable at the moment. So my own estimable haruspex tells me, at any rate.

Middle ground is the first casualty (4.00 / 1)
Eventually one needs to choose sides, or quit the battle.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Sides as defined by whom? (4.00 / 2)
The majority? God? History?

Speaking for myself, I think that the bills now in hand are all fundamentally unworthy of our support, even as bitter compromises, and I'm not sure that in practice any of them would actually be much better than what we have now -- depending on whether or not the Stupak amendment can be sent packing, and the subsidy rates made more realistic. I also doubt that anyone except those who are its current employees and vassals would miss the current Democratic Party if it dissolved into sulfurous smoke and disappeared.

The sides don't matter much to me, I guess I would say, but the context does. The battles we're currently fighting are tactical ones. The strategic battles are less sexy, but in my opinion, are ultimately more important. Mike appears to think that neglecting the one will lead inevitably to the defeat of the other. I'm not at all sure that he's right.

[ Parent ]
You chose your side earlier (4.00 / 2)
perhaps that's why these "sides" don't matter to you.

Not sure what "strategic battles" you are talking about. Winning the mid-terms? Improving the bad policy of the current bills? Maintaining a nominally "Democratic" congress?  

How one sees the strategic battle is derived from how they see the compromised bill, I posit.

If you tend to see the passage of any old bill as a victory, you'll necessarily see its contribution to the long term strategy quite differently than if one sees the health insurance reform bill as a failed attempt to reign in the corporate control of our health care system.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
There's Another Option (4.00 / 1)
Which is that one knows the bill is going to be crap, the only question is how much.  One takes that as given, bu:

(A) One also knows how long it's been since anything so major has been done, and

(B) One sees the whole point engineering a turning in our entire political culture, so that we'll be able to pass a far superior bill within 4-6 years.

While such a turning is by no means assured, it is certain not to happen if GOP stages a major comeback in 2010.

Whether one accepts this POV or not, it's intellectually dishonest to pretend such a perspective doesn't exist, just because it's harder to argue against.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
the pov exists but i don't get it (4.00 / 3)
who will give us a second chance in 4-6 years if we pass a piece of crap bill now and call it wonderful?

isn't it more likely that we will be discredited?  

[ Parent ]
Everyone, including and especially the President (0.00 / 0)
should be yelling the line "this is good, but it could be a lot better and we need to work on improving it", to build political momentum for "fixing it".

And we need to elect more liberals who really do want to fix it.  Preferably by replacing it with Medicare for All.

[ Parent ]
You've nailed it! (0.00 / 0)
Here's why passing a bad bill now will doom any chance to pass a better bill in the future:

Every bill is supported by a coalition with differing perspectives and interests.  Health care as it now exists in the U.S. is broadly acknowledged to be a disaster.  Hence there is pressure on seeming moderates to support a measure that may go further than they are comfortable with.  After all, we have to do something!

If that something is a piece of shit, what happens to future reform?  A stronger bill is introduced in 2 years, 4 years, whatever?  At that point it only gets the support of those who really want something better.  And we know that something better is going to cut into health industry profits and prerogatives.  At that point, they cry, and the moderates they've bought will echo, that we have done enough, and the reform coalition will include ONLY those who actually WANT to challenge the health care industry.  It won't get the votes.

One might argue that we will be able to elect more progressives every election and our numbers will grow.  We can then win.  That logic certainly worked in getting our troops out of Iraq.  Uh, whoops!  Well, at least we've shut down Guantanomo.  Uh, whoops again!  Well, at least ...

No, that framework is dead.  We get pro-choice health care by building a force that demands it and brooks no compromise.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Iraq (4.00 / 1)
We are withdrawing our troops from Iraq, in a way that a Republican Congress would never allow.  You really think the past two elections didn't change anything?

[ Parent ]
Still there (4.00 / 1)
Anyway, all is change.  You can't dip your hand in the same river twice.  So what?

And I guess you think passing a bad bill is a good idea.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
All else being equal, it's not a good idea (0.00 / 0)
In any case, I don't know where you're going with this.  If electing better people to office isn't the way to change the politics in this country, I don't know what is.  Do you want to start an armed revolt or something?

[ Parent ]
Fine (4.00 / 2)
I accept that as an option. I suppose it is possible that losing will really become winning in the end, too. That seems to be the "new" strategy in Afghanistan, so maybe it'll work here, too.

But the strategy appears shaky to say the least.

If you "take it as given" that the bill is crap, how does one transform support for a crappy piece of legislation into "engineering a turning point in the entire political culture"? You admit the turning point is not assured, but is it even likely if the supposed agents of that change are seen as responsible for supporting crappy policy, and rolling over before the fight even begins?

If you're willing to wait another 4-6 years, it seems one could get there without passing any bill at all this year.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
See Paul's response below (4.00 / 4)
I'd go even farther. Getting decent, affordable health care in this country doesn't depend on the passage of any of the current bills. Anyone who reads them can see that as plain as day -- check out Ian's summation in a previous thread. The advocates of fix it later, like Mike, may very well be honest in their assessment that such a thing is possible, but given our recent history, I think that they're whistling in the dark.

By strategy, I mean convincing people that all the current narratives which purport to explain our ills are false -- Democratic as well as Republican ones -- because they're quite clearly based on lies about the real power relationships in this country, and about the permanence of such relationships. Attacking those lies, in whatever form they appea,r is the strategic ground on which I stand, and which makes my view of tactical necessities -- and if I understand him correctly, Paul's view as well -- very different from that of Mike's, even though I have a great deal of sympathy for Mike's view that -- given all the work, we've (he's) done, we should now take whatever we've managed to get, and come back with our bowl and spoon later on.

[ Parent ]
Guarenteed issue and no lifetime cap (0.00 / 0)
are huge economic issues for the insurance industry. I don't think they have a viable business model with these new rules in place. The only way they have been profitable is to dump the really sick people so someone else pays. When they cannot do that, I expect the health insurance industry as we know it to disappear. That would be an improvement, in my view.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

[ Parent ]
Is there a middle ground? (4.00 / 2)
That's a good question. I think those who envision the ground as being a process that might take time to develop as opposed to being fixed are on the right track. I have yet to see anyone here propose a solution to getting a health care reform bill through the two chambers other than through the type of ugly negotiating and cost/benefit reasoning we're seeing. All strategies, no matter how clever, well executed, or progressive lead to the group of six in the Senate, and the conservative block in the house. If anything, this whole process has made clear where the problem lies: the Senate. It not only over-represents conservatives by a large margin, it requires sixty-percent of the votes to pass. It couldn't be any more skewed to the right relative to the population. Sure, there's a lot of things that COULD have been done, but until that firewall is broken the political landscape is going to continue favoring conservatives and so-called moderates (conservatives). That narrow framework is what progressives work in to effect change, not some filibuster proof super-majority. That's just not reality as far as I'm concerned.

[ Parent ]
Wow. just. wow. (4.00 / 6)
What has happened to you people? Mr Lux reminds me of a couple of little girls sitting at a vanity and playing with makeup.. thinking that is the path to true beauty. He requires we all ignore substance of the bill entirely... and just go for a vanity vote.

All is vanity.

My contempt for false progressive activists increases exponentially with each passing day.  

This bill should die a certain death.

january 2009 (4.00 / 3)
dare to take the quiz? name the source of each of the following quotes:


It's a great thing that progressivism is not a top down culture. I think unity comes from rallying around great goals- the big bold initiatives that will change this country. I hope that's what Obama focuses on. Clinton did too many small things that didn't rally anyone to his side.


...history shows that if big things don't start to happen right away when you have the opportunity, you lose the moment. That's what happened to us in the '90s.


I think that what is most important for us all to focus is the really big, transformational fights that will change the country for all time, and not get so caught up in the day to day drama as to who is up and who is down.


The most important single thing is to think big and bold, not small and cautious.


I suspect, as with what happened to Lincoln and FDR, that huge problems will require ever more radical solutions, and that Obama will respond to that dynamic.

[ Parent ]
What do you mean by "false"? (0.00 / 0)
Are you saying Mike Lux isn't really a progressive, and I'm not because I basically agree with him, or just that we're deluded or mistaken about what's going on?

[ Parent ]
Is Anyone Connecting HC Reform and the Economy/Jobs? (0.00 / 0)
Has anyone done an analysis about the effect of the HC Reform bill and its impact on jobs and the economy?  For example, Mike mentions Arkansas and Wal-Mart.  I'm sure somebody in Bentonville ran a lot of numbers before they decided to support reform, including the effect of a reformed system vs. current trends on prices.  It seems to me me that going after Sen. Lincoln about why she should not vote against creating or saving Arkansas jobs would be effective.  

Also, it seems that preventative care might create jobs in small towns whereas the current system which is skewed toward expensive care in big city hospitals might be effective in places like North Dakota and Arkansas where we need votes.  Lots of small towns have doctors or small clinics but hospitals and emergency rooms are increasingly regionalized.  Everybody knows that the Senate is structurally biased toward rural interests, why can't we at least try to make the urban/rural split work for us?

One reason why this is not like the mid '90s (4.00 / 2)
I'm sure somebody in Bentonville ran a lot of numbers before they decided to support reform

Even the uber capitalists that developed the business plans at places like WalMart can no longer ignore the fact that health insurance and pharmaceutical prices are unsustainable.

The impetus for reform will evaporate even if the bill that is finally churned out of the congress is worthy of defeat.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
You Assume Both Too Much And Too LIttle (0.00 / 0)
Too much of the recent past as prologue. Too little of the power for radical change.

Obama may have passed on the later.  But that's not necessarily the final word.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Its not just Obama (4.00 / 2)
that has passed on radical change. But that's kind of beside the point.

If you are trying to defend the current bill as "radical change", please identify what's radical about it.

If you are looking ahead to your 4-6 year timeframe for the radical change, I have to say that I'm not convinced that opposing a bad bill (I admit THIS bill may not (yet) be bad enough, at least for some) is a poor strategy for the future.

Look, this will be considered a Democratic Party policy. Even Obama has stopped saying "bipartisan". It can "fail" in two ways, 1) not pass into law, and 2) not accomplish policy objectives even after passing into law. Supporting a policy that fails by #2 is a very weak position from which to campaign for anything, let alone realigning the political left and repositioning the M$Ps (that is what you are preaching, no?). Once one decides that the bill is not going to succeed by #2, I's suggest that one take mechanism #1 and make improving the bill the main theme of the 2010 season. The position is stronger in the sense that your NO vote carried the day. Plus, by threatening to walk out, you might just get a concession of two, but there's little left to bargain for (assuming that Stupak ploy is nullified as has been suggested).

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Why better reform is possible. (4.00 / 1)
Your point is why reform is inevitable. I do not believe that if this health reform efforts fails to pass, that we will have to wait decades for another health care reform effort. The current system is putting a big hurt on some powerful uber capitalists. Of course it is making other uber capitalist even more wealthly. This is why we are having this current debate. The uber capitalists are divided, if they agreed on a coarse of action, it would have happened already.

We should ask ourselves what the next reform initiative will look like if this one fails.

Republicans are putting forward deregulation, that is what the effect of across State line competition will accomplish; tort reform, making it harder for victims of incompetence to sue or transferring the costs of large settlements to the US Taxpayer; and of course tax cuts. No problem is too complex to be solved by a tax cut!!

Progressives want a single payer, Medicare for all system.

If the Democratic Party suffers large setbacks in 2010, which of the two options above do you believe is more likely?

If we decide we are going to defeat this bill, which I am increasing leaning toward defeat, we had better be working our asses off to build the grassroots support for single payer, Medicare for all reform. Reform will come, and unless the ground swell of support for single payer is large enough to over come the 24/7 news media bias, we will be right back where we are today, or worse.  

[ Parent ]
From my perspective (4.00 / 3)
this effort was wrong-headed from the outset. The whole "let's be bipartisan and take all those nasty leftist ideas right off the table before the Republicans and Pharma Execs get here" approach has been thoroughly debunked.

Why not primary these corporoDems from the left by pointing out how their slavering attention to the impossible to get GOPpers ruined the chances for effective healthcare reform in 2009, and take another shot with new leadership that has the desire to confront the status quo?

Sounds at least as feasible as incremental change.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
counter claims (4.00 / 1)
Agree with your first paragraph, but it itself disagrees with your second paragraph.

The impetus for reform will continue to grow (faster and faster) as the cost of health care continues to outpace inflation and wage increases. This is true with or without the current mess becoming law, because current bills do NOT control greedy insurance cos. Leading to shorter intervals between attempts at reform.

Lives saved and bankrupcies avoided are substantial improvements not yet mentioned here, but largely accomplished in the bills so far.

Surely as progressivs we value these atributes.

I believe something is better than nothing, and we WILL revisit this issue in the not too distant future, regardless.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
Isn't much of the depressed turnout of RAE voters due to voter apathy/ignorance? (4.00 / 1)
These RAE voters didn't come out to vote because they were discouraged that Democrats that they had invested their faith in weren't delivering tangible benefits for their lives.

Really.  That's a very convenient storyline for our purposes, and may be true in part.  But you also wrote:

They all tend to under-perform in terms of coming out to vote, although how much changes dramatically depending on the election

I'm sure a good part of this is because RAE voters have a harder time getting to the polls, but as I've written before and as the bolded part above suggests, these voters tend to not be politically aware, for one reason or another.  They may very well have been unaware that there even was an election.

So for many of these voters, I'm not sure that they were thinking, "I'm not gonna vote because the public option is going to use negotiated rates instead of Medicare rates plus five percent!"  More likely, they'd be going, "Huh?  What election?"

Okay (0.00 / 0)
here's some anecdotal evidence that supports the idea of the consciously depressed voter as opposed to the apathetic one.  But I don't know how typical this case is.

Needless to say, we have to do more to get depressed and apathetic voters to the polls.

[ Parent ]
Could you explain? (4.00 / 1)
As a loyal Democrat

I'd appreciate if you'd explain what you mean by "loyal Democrat".  What are you loyal to exactly?  How loyal?  If, for example, Blanche Lincoln filibustered and killed the current Senate bill, would you support a progressive third party campaign against her?  I certainly would.

The Democratic Party is useful only as a vehicle for progressive policy.  It's also a coalition with various types of moderates, and compromise is sometimes necessary.  "Loyalty" makes sense if it means you support them in elections even if they're less than ideal, and expect them to support you in return, as long as there's some basic minimum that everyone adheres to.  If you block our best chance ever at universal health care, loyalty no longer makes sense.

"universal"? (4.00 / 2)
What did I miss?

[ Parent ]
Why do you call this current monstrosity "reform?" (4.00 / 1)
It isn't.


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