The dangers of deal-making

by: Adam Bink

Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 15:00

In the midst of the gutting of the core provisions of the health care bill is some unnoticed Senate floor action. I am just amazed at the news out of the Senate last night:

In a victory for President Obama and his allies in the pharmaceutical industry...

Let me stop there and say that line alone is unsurprising, but enough to make you vomit-

...the Senate today turned aside a bid by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to make it easier to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and Western Europe -- a proposal that threatened to derail the Democrats' landmark healthcare bill.

The vote on the amendment -- cosponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- was 51-48, nine short of the 60 needed to pass.

The politically charged amendment held up the Senate for a week as drug companies, the White House and lawmakers from states that are home to drug makers fought to derail the proposal. Critics, including the Food and Drug Administration, said it would be difficult to implement and hard to guarantee that imported drugs would be safe.

Aside from, as Howie Klein notes, the weird partisan divides over this, what is absolutely amazing to me is how the sanctity of the deal that the White House cut with the pharmaceutical industry trumped an issue with which Democrats have beat Republicans over the head since 2003, when I remember the Medicare prescription drug bill did not include such a provision and Democrats were howling about it at the time.

The drug amendment had in the past enjoyed broad support from Democrats -- including Obama -- but the White House and Senate leaders bowed to the pharmaceutical industry and joined their effort to derail it. The administration feared that if the amendment had passed, pharmaceutical companies, which earlier this year struck a deal with the White House to limit the economic impact of a healthcare overhaul on their industry, would turn against the broader health legislation.

You could say the same goes for how the White House has treated insurance companies- after the deal they cut with them, there was nary a peep from the White House until October over an industry Pete Stark said said would be "easy to roll" because no one likes them. Again, years of trashing insurance companies from most of the Party, but a reversal from the Administration because of the deal. I wouldn't care as much if I didn't think that move may actually have been detrimental to the entire fight. Health insurance companies worked to gut the bill anyway.

The list of core progressive principles and initiatives that have been sacrificed on the altar of "some bill, any bill" lengthens.

Adam Bink :: The dangers of deal-making

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That's our Democratic Party! (4.00 / 11)

They cut deals with the bad guys, give the bad guys everything they want, and in return get exactly what they would have gotten if they HADN'T cut that deal with the bad guys -- along with a massive loss of credibility.

Heck, if they'd FOUGHT the bad guys, they would have at least gotten some RESPECT from the public. And maybe a policy victory or two.

 I've given up on this administration. I think the blogosphere, the netroots, and the activist community needs to shift gears at this point and make sure that the 2010 bloodbath is NOT laid at our feet. Because you know they'll try their best to do that.


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

Harry Reid's loss means a new chance for a Senate overhaul (4.00 / 1)
Reid's centrist grip/stalemate in the Senate is the cause of Democratic unpopularity and the cause of so many legislative failures leading the general public to believe that all Democrats are weak and ineffective leaders.  His coddling of such a pathetic like Lieberman infuriates the base to now want to stay home.  That's me.

However in trying to think more responsibly, I jumped of my seat and was ready to start campaigning anew when I realized that these may very well be Reids last months in power. And that will leave Lieberman without his mommie. And Obama with two strong Congressional leaders, instead of one.

That fact alone will get the roots off their butts in a heartbeat and the voters with a real stake in overhauling the Senate for their benefit.
You pros can work on picking who takes his place while we do what we do, with one new mission - some extra special targeting efforts.

I'm excited just thinking about it - anyone else??

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
Deal-Making (4.00 / 1)
Obama is stuck in a hard place.  In the middle he confronts a overwhelming number of Americans who expect reasonable change which entails a modern, non-predatory health care system among other things.   On the left he has a group of folks who want him to initiate the Age of Aquarius.   While on the right there's of gaggle of vicious, racist reactionaries and religious fanatics who worship fetuses and self-righteousness.  Complicating the whole mess are the undemocratic traditions of the US Senate which despises the majority.  If Obama can pull this health care business off he will be a miracle worker.  One thing everyone should bare in mind is that America is one of the least progressive, most repressive countries in the world.  The US has fought viciously against universal health care for a century, despite the fact that it has worked in Europe for over a hundred and twenty years.  America didn't fully abolish legal slavery until some fifty years ago (see Blackmon).  Nor did it end all its race purity laws until the late sixties and the early seventies.   And America is still one of only a hand full of countries that does not have paid sick leave or parental leave for its workers.  America stridently insists even on capital punishment for teenagers.  So, those who think change is going to come easily to this country are uninformed about both American history and American realities.  

re: obama (4.00 / 7)
On the left he has a group of folks who want him to initiate the Age of Aquarius.

I want medicare to go from 65 to 55

If Obama can pull this health care business off he will be a miracle worker.

miracle on behalf of who?

[ Parent ]
"Age of Aquarius" (4.00 / 9)
If I remember correctly it was Candidate Obama that ran on a platform of "Change".  Besides, this the job he signed up for so he isn't stuck in a hard place.

A little leadership on health care reform would've been nice.  Instead what we get one day the President says he's for a public option then the next Gibbs is saying public option is not a necessity to health care reform and what do you think Rahm Emanuel was doing behind close doors.  There is no excuse for the complete lack of leadership from this President on such a major issue on HIS agenda.

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

[ Parent ]
Lot of leadership (4.00 / 4)
Unfortunately, Obama and his staff were twisting arms and pulling deals to support the insurance companies, pharma, Lieberman, and Baucus.

Why so many Democrats of better ideas followed them down the lemming path to the sea, I have no idea.

[ Parent ]
There you go again (4.00 / 8)
demonizing people on the left as dirty fucking hippies.  

Obama's not in any "hard place" - he campaigned on change, yet has done everything since getting elected - from his cabinet appointments, the appointment of Tim Kaine at the DNC, pressure on liberals like Carolyn Maloney to drop out of primary contests against more conservative incumbents, appeasing corporate interests in the name of bipartisanship, pressuring liberals but not conservatives, etc., etc. - to narrow the parameters of what's politically possible in terms of reform.  

Fuck Barack Obama and his "hard place."

[ Parent ]
Obama ran on a public option without mandates (4.00 / 2)
and now we're getting mandates without a public option.

Obama is praising Lieberman and fighting Dean, when most people envisioned quite the opposite.

How was this what we voted for? At all?

[ Parent ]
Deal Making (4.00 / 1)
To put the case succinctly:  Americans are not good people.  At best what we can expect from them is that they stop leaving their sick to suffer until every possible penny is extracted from them.  And get them to refrain from murdering each other and oppressing their workers.  In short, to get Americans to act even in the minimally human way would be miraculous . . . and probably won't happen.

As a German, I'm usuallly the most American bashing commenter here. (4.00 / 4)
And I have to say, even for me, your cynism goes way to far. Dunno what Americans did to you, but this hate isn't doing you any good.  

[ Parent ]
As a German . . . (0.00 / 0)
Ich weiß nicht, ob Sie wirklich Deutscher sind. Aber Sie Englisch richtig buchstabieren konnten .

[ Parent ]
Na, meistens jedenfalls. (0.00 / 0)
Und, wo haben Sie Deutsch gelernt? Well, where did you learn German?

[ Parent ]
It looks to me that... (0.00 / 0)
you are not a good person. Why are you defending a President who sold out the principle of helping sick people in order to keep the firehose of corporate dollars aimed at Democrats?

[ Parent ]
did you only just notice this? (4.00 / 1)
to me the key thing about this particular shit sandwich is that there were initially more than 60 votes for it. it could easily have passed cloture and then the formality of actually being passed as legislation. so Reid help up the vote on it, until he and the White House could buy up enough noble citizens to stop it.

the White House continues to claim with a straight face that they support drug reimportation. so will all of the Liebocrat Senators who voted against the bill. they can just lie right into our faces about it because they know there will be no consequences.

check out who voted Nay: Kerry. Schumer. Burris. Reid. our good friends show their true blue.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

I cannot wait to vote for Bill Thompson (0.00 / 0)
or whomever winds up jumping on the irresistible opportunity to challenge and defeat Kirsten Gillibrand from the left.


[ Parent ]
The crazy thing about all this (4.00 / 2)
is that they're just guaranteeing their eventual political oblivion by doing this. Which makes me wonder, are they really this stupid, or are they just trying to get as much out of the system for them and their corporate owners as they can before they're forced out of office? I'm increasingly leaning towards the latter. This is the political version of corporate raiding--buy a successful and wealthy company, loot its assets by selling it off piece by piece and firing people right and left, and then dump the stock just before it tanks. Or, really, of how the real estate bubble exploded and burst--it was an inside job from the start, enabled by leading Dems under Clinton (but obviously helped along with GOP support). Unsurprisingly, the same Dems are in charge of Obama's economic and financial team.

Ok, that's it. Obama is officially a crook. Not a coward, not weak, not a fool, but just a crook, a sellout to corporate interests. It's almost literally impossible to come to any other conclusion at this point.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
And so it is with the very party(ies) (0.00 / 0)
The D party is legitimized from the left by those who accept the "old college try" in lieu of anything tangible.  The R party is legitimized from the right by those who accept state-enforced conservative social order and are willing (in fact if not in principle) to pay for them.

The two-party system and the center-right "center" are legitimized by fitting the default worldview of just about anyone with editorial control over a sizable chunk of the MSM.

It is in neither major party's interest to redistribute power and wealth more evenly.

All this "better Democrats" nonsense is at best peeing into the wind and at worst aiding, abetting and legitimizing the concentration of power and wealth.  Anyone who believes otherwise is more than welcome to show me any line of attack which those who have captured either major party would be unable to counter through the withdrawal of support.

[ Parent ]
Funny how the "Dems" who keep saying that "we don't have the votes" (4.00 / 3)
to pass progressive legislation...are the very same "Dems" who won't vote for such legislation! The tautological idiocy of such defenses of bad legislation is surreal.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

this is not the change that I voted for.... (0.00 / 0)
I feel like I got taken hook, line and sinker.  I knocked on hundreds of doors, canvassed, signed up voters, made phone call and donated thousands of dollars.  I feel like I got fucked and not even kissed.  I am so disgusted with the past few days that I don't know what to do or say.  But when it comes to next year and 2012, count me out for all of that shit above.  Obama sold out and his promises of real health care reform were a line of crap.

Damn am I pissed....

It's ironic (4.00 / 1)
that a White House that was so obsessed "bipartisanship" a few months ago would cut a deal to kill a bill that actually had bipartisanship in good faith.


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