I’m not a member of an organized political party …

… I’m a Democrat.

Somehow George W. Bush could persuade a slim majority of Congress into overwhelming support authorizing war in Iraq (which wasn’t a viable threat to the United States) and President Obama with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate can not get meaningful health care (which without being addressed poses a greater danger to the United States than Saddam ever did) reform legislation passed.

There are two reasons.  One, Obama and his team including Rahm Emanuel, have not forcefully twisted arms, threatened primary election opponent campaign support,  or shamed Democratic congressmen into action, perhaps by reminding them they were elected Democrats.  Secondly, the Democrats let’s just say are behaving like Democrats,  grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.  But, it’s not just incompetence or gutlessness, although some of that certainly is at play.  A much larger component is out and out corruption.  If the Republicans are the political party that is bought and paid for by special interests like the health care industrial complex, it appears many Democrats are being rented with an option to buy.  Kent Conrad and Max Baucus are bought and paid for and should take their act from K Street to whatever D.C. street or thoroughfare in their respective districts prostitutes frequent.  The rest of the Blue Dog Dems should join them.

Serious Times …

In a recent post at newmajority.com David Frum, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, questions the outcome if Republicans successfully block President Obama’s plans for health care reform:

For some, the answer is obvious: beat back the president’s proposals, defeat the House bill, stand back and wait for 1994 to repeat itself.

The problem is that if we do that… we’ll still have the present healthcare system. Meaning that we’ll have (1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments.

We’ll have entrenched and perpetuated some of the most irrational features of a hugely costly and under-performing system, at the expense of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, exactly the people the Republican party exists to champion.

The status quo is not acceptable.  Doing nothing is not a solution — the problems exist and will not just disappear through inaction.  Lying to the American people about pulling the plug on grandma or euthanizing the disabled serves no one.  Encouraging those who portray Obama as Hitler or suggest the U.S. is becoming fascist due to reform of health care insurance ultimately is a losing battle.  David Frum seems to have looked ahead.  Others conservatives should follow.

Liars, Idiots, and Crazies Oh My!

In a previous post, I suggested Sarah Palin was batshit crazy.  Perhaps this was unfair.  There’s a chance she’s perfectly sane.  This would mean she’s either just an idiot or she’s deliberately lying.  I’m not really sure.

Sarah Palin is not alone.  Other Republicans that fall into this group include Rush Limbaugh (de facto leader of the Republican Party), Newt Gingrich (who wishes he was the de facto leader of the Republican Party), Sen. Grassley, Dick Armey (FreedomWorks founder and townhall crazy promoter), and many, many others.

Republicans don’t want health care reform for several reasons.  Primarily they want Obama to fail and to use his failure to get legislation passed as a springboard for their electoral rebound in 2010 (ala 1994, following the defeat of President Clinton’s health care reform plan).  They also don’t want it because Obama does — Republicans play the role of opposition party better than anyone, never mind if it’s in the best interest of the country (see stimulus package).  Finally, they say they don’t want government to get between doctors and patients, but they really love insurance companies (and their high dollar contributions) to get between doctors and patients — quite honestly, they see this as a gravy train they don’t want to end.

So, Palin, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Grassley, and Armey may not be insane after all.  There’s a chance they may not even be idiots.  Perhaps they’re just lying scumbags shamelessly scaring the American public into keeping the disastrous health care system in place.  Of course, there’s another option — they may be crazy, idiots, and liars.

Recent GOP VP nominee: batshit crazy

There seems to be a hurdle Sarah Palin faces:  what can she say or do to top the last stupid thing she said or did?  But, Sarah! succeeds.  In a recent Facebook post she suggests Obama’s health care proposal will include a panel that will decide who lives and who dies:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

An evil plan would be to scare the American people into fearing health care reform, but lying to them about the current proposals, stirring up the mob, so that no reform takes place and therefore, more and more people are denied treatment, more and more people avoid preventive care, and ultimately more and more people die unnecessarily.  That’s evil.

Sarah, we don’t wish ill on your son or you or anyone else in your family.  We want you and your family to live long, healthy, and productive lives.  I liked you more when you were just incompetent, corrupt, and unqualified.  Now, you’re still incompetent, corrupt, and unqualified, but with a heavy dose of crazy, and so the punchlines don’t have the sting they used to.  Now, the jokes seem a little off-color, like making fun of someone who really needs help.

Mob Rule?

With the announcement that U.S. Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC) has had his life threatened over health care reform, the tide has turned.  The fomenting venom has manifested into verbal threats — how much longer until violence follows?  This, unfortunately, is the expected outcome of a movement stoking rather than dousing the extremism on the right.

Sarah Palin and to a lessor extent, John McCain, embraced this sort of hostility while it served their interests during the 2008 campaign.  Republicans and their allies against health care reform seem content to continue to embrace and even cultivate the right wing extemists catered to during the Tea Bag movement, thereby aligning themselves with a group who questions Barack Obama’s U.S. birth (and therefore legitimacy as President), asserts all guns will soon be confiscated (thereby driving up the sales of guns and ammunition), proclaims socialism has arrived, casts Obama as Hitler, and suggests the Democrats’ health care plan includes euthanizing the elderly.

The problem Republicans may soon face is whether the lunatic fringe can be managed or if it, like a contained fire that spreads and becomes uncontrollable, leads to unforseen devastation.  They may soon question whether they rule the mob or the mob rules them.

Obama’s Poor Negotiation

Single payer should have been on the table from the start.   This seems to be the unfortunate lesson President Obama and his administration should be learning now.  By opting to promote a public option solution (rather than a single payer solution) from the start, the Democrats lost bargaining position with Republicans, who would have railed against any initial proposal.  A public option shouldn’t have been the proposed solution, but with some forethought, seen as the potential compromise.  Now, even that appears in doubt.

Obama has repeatedly mentioned that if he was starting from scratch he would opt for single payer.  Unfortunately, the  unlikelihood of  single payer passing Congress remains and in this sense Obama was correct in questioning its political viability.  However, this did not necessitate discarding single payer as part of the initial discussion and given its widespread adoption throughout the world successfully, it should have served as both an educational standpoint and more importantly, a negotiation tool.

There remains a false promise of bipartisanship, but any suggestion Republicans will participate in doing anything other than obstruction of health care reform should be seen as theatrics.  The downside of pushing a robust public option as part of the initial proposal for health care reform is that following negotiations, the public option plan will be watered down and become either eliminated or renderered impotent .  Again, the compromise between a good proposal and one with Republican support is a bad proposal.  So, in this case Obama should have opted for a great proposal:  single payer.

Compromising With Republicans

Much commentary recently has focused on the need for bipartisanship and there seems to be the perceived belief that health care reform must include some Republican support.  But, while it would be preferable for Republicans to support meaningful legislative action, there’s no evidence of that likelihood.

Quite honestly, Republicans want Obama to fail, just like they wanted Clinton to fail.  The evidence for this is overwhelming and should be accepted by now.   During Clinton’s 1993 deficit reduction plan budget he received no Republican support — not a single vote — with Republicans claiming the budget would destroy the economy.

Republicans, again playing the role of opposition party first, America second, opposed the Obama Stimulus plan with near unanimity.  There seems to be some suggestion that winning the sole Republican votes for the stimulus plan (Collins, Specter, and Snowe) came at the price of a watered down plan.   Paul Krugman seems to have been quite prophetic in this regard:

I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we’re talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says “See, government spending doesn’t work.”

It should be obvious: Obama will not receive Republican support for health care reform.  Despite all their theatrics and posturing, Republicans seem content to oppose the plan and hope the failure to pass health care reform weakens Obama and signals their return to power in 2010 and 2012, at which time they can fail to introduce meaningful health care reform again.

Unfortunately, the compromise between a good proposal and a proposal that can get Republican support (or Blue Dog Dem support) is a bad proposal.