Friday, August 21, 2009

Progressives in Revolt

Paul Krugman today outlines President Obama's "trust problem."
On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee....

So progressives are now in revolt. Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it. And now he needs to win it back.
Progressives in revolt. Count me in. This progressive is drawing her line in the sand, since Obama seems to lack the will to do so. I insist on real, substantive reform, a plan that will ensure that Americans are no longer denied care on the basis of some profit-monger's bottom line. And yes, Obama definitely has a trust problem.

Glenn Greenwald made an excellent case on Wednesday that Obama & Co., not being big, hapless dummies, are going about this reform process in a way so as to get exactly the bill they want, that is, exactly the bill the health insurance industry wants, while ensuring that that industry's support stays solidly with the Democrats. There's no other reasonable explanation for the administration's casual, milquetoast, give-away-the-farm approach to health care reform.

Today, Greenwald outlines the administration's strategy further:
This is the mindset of Rahm Emanuel: The only calculation that matters is maximizing political power. The only "change" that's meaningful is converting more Republican seats into Democratic ones. A legislative "win" is determined by whether Democrats can claim victory, not by whether anything constructive was achieved. The smart approach is to serve and thus curry favor with the most powerful corporate factions, not change the rules to make them less powerful....

All that matters is that we beat the Republicans and we should do anything to achieve that, including serving corporate donors to ensure they fund Us and not Them. [emphasis in original]

But that isn't what Obama pledged he would do when he campaigned. He repeatedly vowed he would do the opposite -- that he would reject that thinking and battle aggressively against domination by what he called "the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few" who have "run Washington far too long" -- and he convinced millions of people that he was serious, people who, as a result, became fervent devotees to his cause. Those are the people who New York Times columnist Frank Rich recently said have been "punked by Obama" because it is precisely those same interests who continue to be the prime beneficiaries and masters of Washington behavior during the Obama presidency.
I am indeed feeling punked, as Rich so succinctly put it. And I'm furious. I'm not altogether surprised, but I am dismayed at how readily and transparently Obama has gotten in bed with the corporate behemoths who treat this country like their own personal all-you-can-eat buffet. This is most assuredly not the change I voted for.

I will fight this status-quo-loving pandering-to-money politics as hard as I can, regardless of whether it's coming from the Reps or the Dems. I am sick to death of a system that's stacked against ordinary Americans, enriching the already fabulously wealthy and leaving the average working stiff in the muck. The enormous gulf between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen ominously.

Our current wealthcare system is a travesty and a horror that affects every single ordinary person in this country. Eighteen thousand U.S. citizens die every year because they don't get adequate health care. As Johann Hari of the Independent says, "That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year." And then there are those, either uninsured or underinsured, who are bankrupted and ruined because they happened to get sick. Many of these are the people who are then forced to foreclose on their mortgages.

The insurance companies are having your American dream for lunch. They not only deny people coverage on the basis of "preexisting conditions"; they deny care to those who are "covered" based on the insurance company's assessment of what is "necessary." It's you and your doctor who should be deciding what's "necessary," not some insurance company bean-counter hack.

We are in the midst of a full-blown health care emergency in this country, a disaster the equivalent of six 9/11s every year, and Obama and Rahm want to give away the farm to the monsters responsible for this debacle. Don't let them. Keep pushing and pushing. Channel your rage. And don't back down.

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