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Bipartisanship Is The Reformkiller

ntoddpax's picture

He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing.

- Paul "Muad Dib" Atriedes

Sorry for the scifi references, but it's really true, eh? It's something the GOP has learned quite well: they destroyed American freedoms and the US economy, and they still control us even in the Minority.

The difference between them and progressive Kill-the-Billers is that their end goal is just to destroy, whereas we want to wrest control from them to actually protect reform. We don't want to destroy HCR in order to save it; we want to destroy a specific thing that is to our mind anathema to reform. Yet the threat to kill this particular bill can, in the end, save it along with reform itself.

Dems are desperate to pass something so they don't look hapless and ineffective (as I've said before, I think that ship sailed long ago). They hoped gutting reform would get GOP votes, but it didn't. They lost the MA Senate race in part for not going far enough, providing the public option that most Americans want (woman under bus notwithstanding).

It's time to double down. Without meaningful reform, at the very least PO if not removing anti-abortion language and Section 1332, House progs can easily scuttle the bill. That threat might very well be enough to fix it now because leadership is scared about electoral prospects in November.

The GOP plays hardball all the time and gets what it wants. Progs can do it, too: give us back the reforms we voted for that the Senate killed, or we kill the whole thing. Instead of further capitulation, showing resolve would change the dynamic and allow us to negotiate from a position of strength.

If the bill does die, obviously the Dems need to pass something quickly. So kick HR676 out of the various committees its stuck in by virtue of raw majority power, schedule a floor vote and send it to the Senate.

In the other chamber the Majority should forego the usual 60 vote threshold established by unanimous consent agreement (Feingold, Sanders, I'm looking to you to object). Force the GOP and Lieberman either filibuster or use other parliamentary procedures to delay a vote and now it's clear they are obstructing reform.

That provides time to mobilize people outside the beltway to escalate action and lobby "moderates," etc. Even Strom Thurmond couldn't delay Civil Rights legislation forever, so filibusters and quorum calls cannot destroy the bill--only Senate Democrats giving in to the Minority can do that.

An old Cosby line comes to mind: I brought you into this world, I can take you out.

The Dems were ineffective as the Minority, but when they asked us to we gave them Congress in 2006. They were an ineffective as the Majority, but when they asked for more seats in the house and 60 votes in the Senate, we gave it to them in 2008, and the Presidency. We did this in good faith and they still haven't held up their end of the bargain.

We brought them into power, they have thus far failed to act, and we must threaten to get them out of power. There's still time for behavior correction, but we must stand firm in our discipline lest they assume once again that we have nobody else to turn to come election time.

People don't like it when I say we're partially to blame here. Surely the Dems are the primary people at fault, but to a certain degree we let them fail. They're politicians and we've been fundamentally disengaged, hoping in the wake of Bush that by default, without our pushing, they'd get their act together.

Now we must do do so.

Threaten the status quo of corporate domination--through lobbying, campaign contributions, and now free spending in elections--that has hampered reform of not just health care. The only thing pols really respond to is fear of losing in November.

Primary and General challenges are a great thing we should bring to bear, but incumbents have little fear of overthrow usually. So we need to change the equation through massive direct action before then and show them we're serious. Dems think in the end we have to vote for them, but Massachussets showed that wasn't true. That upset was a good down payment on our electoral threats, but we need followup.

[I'm just going to steal something I said in response to comments on another post the other day. Apologies for lazy, slightly-modified plagiarism.]

I've tried to rally Labor, MoveOn, DFA, NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, A-list bloggers and anybody who else who has a big audience and platform to organize a variety of escalating forms of direct action since March. I would not presume to have the best plan without people engaging in constructive debate about such things, but I have frequently outlined it thus:

Start with petitions and e-mail campaigns issuing the demand for HR676 and specifying a collective response in the event of capitulation (which we've seen piecemeal with SP becoming PO, Stupak, loss of PO, Section 1332, etc), to include withdrawal of support from incumbent Democrats in primaries and general elections and the following:

o Weekly vigils in front of local Congressional and insurance offices.
o Coordinated national marches in state capitals and/or major cities.
o Weekend march in DC in conjunction with mass lobbying on the Hill.
o Boycotts (at least secondary targets like cable companies if not riskier focus on primary targets like ins cos).
o "Sick-in" strikes.
o Weekday marches in DC and around the nation, mass lobbying, and civil disobedience.

At this point, our demands have been issued but few significant threats were made. For example, Labor promised to not support Dems in 2010 until they got the Caddy tax compromise protecting their constituency. So the divide and conquer plan has worked as we've allowed an already watered down compromise get compromised further, with bribes thrown to a variety of groups to win their buy-in while others were marginalized.

So now I'm more of the mind that we have to leap right into economic intervention, maybe with mass lobbying on Congressional delegations in-district and at the Capitol, another march or set of marches, and civil disobedience thrown in to get visuals.

Yeahyeahyeah, I love my tasty Kool Aid. For once I'd really like to see people skip the "that shit'll never work" knee-jerk response and think about how we could make it work. Since the usual approaches haven't magically gotten us a PO let alone single-payer, perhaps we could try something new (to this issue) and apply tactics and strategies that have effected great social change in our recent history.

But other suggestions have left me cold: fix it later won't work as I see it post-MA and Citizens United, and the Dems are in danger of not only losing seats but perhaps even the Majority. Time is of the essence to pass HCR, and we can even save the Dems in spite of themselves by disrupting corporate influence a bit and forcing the Majority to get a meaningful bill out of the bipartisan morass that threatens to kill real reform.


PS--Speaking of in-district lobbying, Ericka, Sam and I are headed to Representative Peter Welch's office in Burlington before I have to teach today.

(Post at Pax Americana, Dohiyi Mir, Green Mountain Code Pink, Corrente and Daily Kos.)

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ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

I know the attitude here is generally that PO is a fake solution and threat to single-payer, but I'm fine the idea as a fallback short-term and step toward the inevitable.

Of course I want Medicare for All now and agitate for it. I think it's less tenable politically, both inside and outside the Beltway, so if we can get DK's State single-payer amendment restore and a national PO, we have something that can survive GOP repeal threats and create enough of an entitlement to be expanded into full blown universal healthcare. That also shows the Dems can get something popular out of the process and buys us more breathing room as we advocate for the ultimate solution.

Of course, the devil's in the details. And of course, I wish the Netroot Overlords had not given away single-payer to start since that really harms our negotiating stance now...

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

I don't want the current bill because of mandates which do, in fact, ratify the ins cos role and entrench them.

Creating a true PO, which is a non-corporate alternative, we don't allow the the bastards int the government entitlement, and once people are on that it will be hard to get them out. Studies I've seen (no links right now) suggest that business and individual coverage will switch in significant numbers to the PO, which is why it was killed by the Senate corporatists.

It's not a perfect analog, but not entirely dissimilar to what we do in VT where all of our citizens can get State-based coverage (and we've almost gotten everybody in the system already). This Leg session we're working on single-payer.

So sometimes gradualism can pay off, my references to what MLK called a tranquil drug notwithstanding. I guess it's the difference between a tactical gradualism vs a strategic one: I won't settle for less than all Americans having government coverage options (strategos), I personally am willing to declare victory if we break the ins cos monopoly and guarantee universal coverage (taktikos). The rest will fall like a ripe apple, with the only question being exactly when.

So the big key from where I sit is getting the government into healthcare beyond Medicaid, Medicare, and Tricare, which have very specific constituencies. That'll get more people invested in government coverage and eventual expansion. And if we fight for this through direct action, we actually have the power to mitigate corporate influence to boot.

Submitted by lambert on

... since anything funded by the usual suspects is, well, suspect.

I don't buy the theory that because the so-called public option -- which one? Hacker's paper with 130 million enrollees? Or the one actually embodied in legislation, with 10 million?* -- was killed, therefore it would have been effective, as you aver. Since there's really no concrete policy to point to, that's like saying because a marketing slogan was killed, the product was effective.

NOTE * I've seen zero evidence that number of enrollees would have any impact at all.

UPDATE And I agree on the mandate. Failure to buy junk insurance should not be a Federal crime. Stalemate and no bill is a better outcome than bailing out the insurance companies with the mandate. Unfortunately, the bottom line for both the insurance companies and the administration -- assuming them to be distinct -- is exactly what both of us find unacceptable. So, if the Stupak amendment is the poison pill that causes the thing not to pass, hurrah!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The devil's in the resolute lack of details, which is fundamental to what it is (if it can be said to "be," at all).

"Public option" is an idea for an idea (if not even more recursively, meta-ly more of a nothing than that), and it's a proven roach motel for progressive HCR energies.

Sorry, no sale on "it can be meaningful." Its raison d'être is to prevent meaningful solutions.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

Its raison d'être is to prevent meaningful solutions.

As Ian said at the end of August and reiterated in December:

Since a real public option properly created to not be constrained from doing so WILL drive private insurers out of business, it will not be allowed to happen…A public option which won’t destroy the insurers in time, is also a public option which can’t drive down prices effectively.

And, as we've seen by the excruciating "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" scenario that played out, any so-called "public option" can (and will) be sliced and diced into utter meaninglessness.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

A PO is not designed to necessarily prevent meaningful solutions. That's some powerful 'correspondent inference theory' that I don't buy into.

The initial PO proposals were a bridge to single-payer, providing similar cost savings as the latter and still getting government into the universal healthcare business. That's why Baucus et al needed to kill it. Call it a gateway drug, or something like Civil Unions.

But it's kind of a moot point. Let's start with some direct action to back up our demands for single-payer and see where the chips fall first. Then we can quibble and parse whether this is more like 1964, 1957 or 1857.

Submitted by lambert on

It's not like this has never happened before. In fact, it's a pattern.

And if the process by which [a|the] [strong|robust|triggered] public [health insurance]? [option|plan]? was "proposed" had been an honest -- heck, a legitimate -- one, the single payer advocates would have been at the table (and bringing pressure from the left, too). In fact, they were shunned and censored. Ill means, ill ends. And as far as the Herndon Alliance, and HCAN pollster Celinda Lake, you're just wrong: The process was clearly designed to prevent "meaningful" solutions. See Lake's history in Maine.

NOTE If the process and the validity of the so-called public option is "a moot point," then why advocate for it?

Submitted by hipparchia on

i forgot to put that one into my homework assignment :-) for ntodd below.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

NOTE If the process and the validity of the so-called public option is "a moot point," then why advocate for it?

I'm advocating for single-payer. Yet if there's a fallback that gets us everything else, including repro rights protection, removal of 1332, etc...I'm willing to reassess our position.

Submitted by lambert on

How is this not advocacy?

Without meaningful reform, at the very least PO if not removing anti-abortion language and Section 1332, House progs can easily scuttle the bill.

What we are saying -- and what the homework shows -- is that the so-called Public Option (I refuse to reify a marketing slogan with an acronym) is not "meaningful" (or at least it has a meaning very different from that which its advocates claim for it.)

Tough crowd ;-)

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

Because I didn't say I wanted that outcome?

I was examining the political implications of exercising progressive power. I know the Prog Caucus has supported *at least* a PO, and of course supports HR676. They will realistically at this late juncture settle for a PO because they're politicians and we probably can't force the single-payer issue even with direct action at this point without time and numbers on our side.

I'm also not entirely convinced by the "homework". It's not like I haven't looked at this stuff before, and I see this as a viable and meaningful fallback--YMMV.

That's not advocacy: it's noting that the short-term prospects of our demands might not be exactly what we want, and creating the space for the pols to do some of their homework means giving them alternatives that we can live with. I've seen a practical application of the principle in Vermont at least twice and think we can learn from them.

Submitted by lambert on

You're advocating a spectrum of policy alternatives where the so-called "public option" is meaningful -- an acceptable, if not an ideal, outcome. As many of us have said and backed up elsewhere on this thread, it isn't. There is not a spectrum with single payer at one end and public option somewhere to the right of it. The two are different in kind.

UPDATE 1 Now, something like progressively expanding Medicare, like the original Kennedy bill, would be meaningful. There's actual legislation, for example. So why make vaporware the fallback, when there's a real alternative?

UPDATE 2 I understand the argument you're making from VT (although Hipparchia has things to say about it below). Is there a reason to think that Montpelier, scaled up, works like the Beltway?

UPDATE 3 As far as "not being entirely convinced..." Come on. You say "surveys say." We say, "Oh? Which?" and give our own. Are you really sure you've already read everything that we're citing? Because I haven't seen a whole lot of evidence for that and we are, after all -- at least hipparchia is -- policy geeks on this...

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

we are, after all -- at least hipparchia is -- policy geeks on this...

And yet you haven't convinced me. Inconceivable, I know.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... dealt with the demonstrable amorphousness of "a public option," and the concomitant illogic of presenting it as "meaningful."

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

As a future candidate for US Rep from MI, (I'm getting SERIOUS about this, folks), I hold to one princple-KISS. SP is a moral imperative. Pre-surrender, discussion of "what's politically possible", and any other tactics to water down what is essentially a lean, simple, beautiful structure for dispensing healthcare, are NOT in my playbook. The analogy is being slightly pregnant, you can't have "almost good " HCR. The conversation needs to START and END with "how do we get SP?", not , "gee, when we lose/give up/compromise our principles, what will we settle for?"

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

Gonna run as an Independent, my SO is on board. I truly don't expect to win, but getting on the ballot might shift the discourse. Hard to have a serious run while working 12-hour MN shifts, but a few pics, some incendiary campaign lit, etc, might get me a small mention locally?

Submitted by hipparchia on

none of the po incarnations that ever made it into any of the proposed legislation even started as a suitable fallback. they all started as just another ghetto like medicare [old people], medicaid [poor people], tricare [active military], vha [veterans]. all noses, no camels.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

I'm covered by a public option. And I know flatlanders--I've given them info when they've contacted me out of the blue--who have come to VT to buy into our public option.

We've slashed our uninsured numbers dramatically since Green Mountain Care was implemented. The only reason we're not at 100% insured is an awareness issue, so we advertise to get people to sign up. When they apply the goal is to cover, not to deny coverage. Works well.

Submitted by hipparchia on

as a national strategy, separating various groups into their own silos means that they can then later be ghettoized, as in setting up catfood commissions to defund them. if each separate constituency can be kept small enough, their political clout to fight back is lessened, and they can even be turned against each other by canny operators.


We've slashed our uninsured numbers dramatically since Green Mountain Care was implemented.


Wow. That sounds like... a public option! Let's go to the scoreboard: Vermont's rate of uninsurance was 9.5% in 1992 and 9.3% in 2008.

the 2008 and 2009 reports indicate fairly modest improvement in the more recent uninsured rates, with medicare, medicaid, and the military apparently picking up most of those who were dropped by their employers.

and kaiser [which may or may not be a truly reliable source] suggests there's been no improvement at all.

The only reason we're not at 100% insured is an awareness issue, so we advertise to get people to sign up. When they apply the goal is to cover, not to deny coverage.

vermont is way ahead of states like mine [florida], but still...

The Green Mountain state took a different route. Officials decided they couldn't afford to cover everyone, so they focused on cutting costs and improving care, with the goal of insuring more people. They won over critics in the Legislature and the public by not raising taxes.


Currently the plan is offered by two private insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care. Individuals can enroll in Catamount Health if they have been uninsured for the past 12 months, with some exceptions such as loss of employment. Insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on health status, but they can exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions for up to 12 months.

one of the problems with these state-level public options is that they are typically medicaid demonstration projects, for which states get waivers from the federal govt to use their medicaid money to pay private insurers to cover people, rather than paying the medicaid $$ directly to doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. in this way, what was once a public program has become largely privatized, with goodly sums of that money flowing to people who already have enough money.

yes, some deserving people [like you and ericka and sam] get help, and i'm sincerely glad of that, but as a public policy program it's a poor way to spend tax dollars.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

...when you're trying to move toward something universal.

We have a collection of programs under the umbrella of Green Mountain Care. There is Catamount, which you can buy into, and programs like PC-Plus, has a range of premiums starting at zero dollars. We went from 45k uninsured to just over 20k since we started this exercise in 2007 [correction: went down to 45k, slashing 20k or so], and while those articles are very nice I think they miss the point: when you apply here, the whole goal of the bureaucracy is to determine exactly how to cover you, rather than trying to deny coverage.

The VT Dept of Health goes out of its way to get people into the program. You don't even have to prove residency, just US citizenship (which is a Fed requirement, not State).

In that light, I wouldn't call it ghettoizing, though I understand the rhetorical reason you would do that. I would suggest that, yes, it does keep people in silos, but that's not a bad interim policy step when you consider different groups of people do in fact have different needs and trying to unite multiple silos can be political untenable.

Can they be picked off as politics and economics change? Of course they can. That will almost assuredly happen if you don't sustain momentum of the social change.

That's why I note the current bill is divide and conquer. Hey, the British tried it too, pitting Muslim against Hindu and treating India as hundreds of different constituencies that could be exploited to keep Indians divided and impotent.

Yet now our Legislature is focusing on single-payer, so accepting a fallback can in the long-term be rather constructive as you continue to press the issue. King and Gandhi did the same thing at various times when tactically it made sense to solidify a significant advance--some people think the current bill does that, we on this thread don't but differ on whether we're at a CRA1957 or 1964 point.

I think the point we should be dwelling on right now is not whether we trust the Feds to keep moving forward with reform, but how we will continue creating space for them to do so. In other words, what are we going to do about any of this shit, whether you will settle for nothing less than single-payer or are willing to accept a PO right now and the additional work the next step will require.

Set the demand at single-payer, fight as though we're going to get it, and when we've forced the opponent to deal with us then we can reassess whether or not the PO might be a potential interim solution that we can use to springboard into further reforms through our continued work. That's exactly opposite what the Dems have done, which is capitulate at the least resistance. Reactive instead of proactive.

The key is action. Thus far we've seen very little, which is why even an imperfect solution like a PO is off the table.

Submitted by hipparchia on

The initial PO proposals were sold as a bridge to single-payer.

yes, it's possible that the po that jacob hacker first came up with could have perhaps given us something akin to australia's medicare [you have to scroll down pretty far and it's only a measly coupla sentences] and yes, we've been dissecting the lewin group studies here for-like-evar, but something to keep in mind is that richard kirsch, founder of hcan, had earlier formed a group [the herndon alliance] that hired 'top democratic strategist' celinda lake to basically lie about single payer vs public option.

if you wanted to incrementally get govt into the universal healthcare business, you could have been advocating for expanding medicare, as that's what its architects had originally intended [once it became clear that a fully nationalized health insurance program wasn't going to be achieved right away].

you have to do a little more homework before you'll be able to convince correnteans of the value of advocating for the [or any] po. besides, i sometimes go into full linky mode when someone types 'i don't have a link just now...'

Submitted by lambert on

Heck, that was the original Kennedy plan: To lower the age of Medicare eligibility progressively. There's a perfectly reasonable incremental solution, which would have been wildly popular. (Remember, Medicare isn't a government program!)

Instead, we got the Rube Goldberg health exchanges, which weren't even open to everyone. Yay!

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

if you wanted to incrementally get govt into the universal healthcare business, you could have been advocating for expanding medicare

I am advocating for expanding Medicare. That's what "Medicare for All" means.

And yet in VT we have something akin to a public-option, which works very well--my family is covered by it--and we're working on single-payer this session. So I always want to consider a Plan B, which those who immediately embraced the PO, let alone the Obama administration, never had.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Starting position: Medicare for All. Fallback position: Medicare for under 18/over 55.

Or, since you think the Vermont plan works well, fallback: The Vermont Plan.

Progressives (and others) pushing the public option have poisoned the discourse through negligent usage. The phrase "public option" could have been given concrete meaning early on by consistenty associating it with specific policy elements early on. The fact that that was never done was probably not accidental; it's far easier to whip up support and get people to Send Money! for a vague marketing slogan that easily morphs into whatever. It's too late, at this point, to inflate the empty term "public option" with real meaning, so we need to find something else.

It's not that folks here don't understand the idea of a Plan B; it's that "public option" isn't it.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

I appreciate your constructive suggestions. I could go for any of your alternate frames. And I certainly admit that I've been using PO in a way that can cause problems not only in communication but actual policy implementation.

So now that we've knocked the language issue on its ass...what is the fallback that we should accept and what's our brand name?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

acceptance of "a public option" made progressives as dumb and distracted as catnip-addled calicos?

According to President Obama's own words, this "program" was going to cover less 5% of Americans (David Swanson estimated it, based on the draft bills, as 2%).

Not one "progressive" advocate for this Trojan Pony would admit -- or could rebut -- that the program was being designed in such a way that:

* It covered too small (and too unenviable) a pool to "keep" insurance companies honest
* It rationalized a plan to expand the number of people getting ripped off by Big Insurance

This I just don't get: the virtues of using this (now fading) generational HCR opportunity to push us deeper into the clutches of the culprits behind our current FAIL... in exchange for the Incredible Slippery Shrinking "Public Option" Meta-Concept that will magically put us on track for a better plan (once this reform wave has passed and this crop of Democrats has fully destroyed its brand and, unfairly, liberalism along with it).

Blithely referring to "a public option" as if it refers to any fixed or meaningful plan is a sucker deal.

We went through this all last year, with "strong" and "robust" temporarily appended to "public option," but absolutely none of its advocates would define and stand behind any measure of what that meant. Our job was to beg for a "public option" and be satisfied if anything bearing that name was passed. And most of us were pliant enough to oblige, with many of us donating to Saint Jane, Open Left, and MoveOn to help make it so.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

acceptance of "a public option" made progressives as dumb and distracted as catnip-addled calicos?

That's only because it was set as the initial negotiating position. Single-payer was taken off the table by all "serious" people so inevitably compromises were made from a position of weakness, and every time further watering down occurred it met with even less resistance. Perfect application of Hitler's maxim: submit demands to the vanquished in installments.

So I've suggested that we go all-in with single-payer and have the installment plan in our back pocket. That's what the GOP, Blue Dogs and ins cos fear as much as single-payer itself, hence the desperate "exchange" ploy.

But by all means, do what everybody else does when opinions differ: muse about how people can be so blind, stupid, irrational, ideologically compromised, etc!

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

Ah, I see this is my bus stop: the intersection of Ad Hominem Circle and Qualified Progressive Way.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Once again: how does the demonstrably amorphous "a public option" qualify as meaningful?

Because you're aware of one program that might be described thusly? That mitigates the wildly protean and ever-shrinking definition that has soaked up lefty HCR debate for the past year?

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

Let's consider how best to find a common point of contact right now.

I'll start: we want single-payer, we want the current bill to die, we need to find a way to make those things happen. I suggest a regime of direct action, as was the main thrust of my post, to force engagement by the non-reformers.

Perhaps you can stop saying I'm blind, avoiding and not a progressive and we can move on. Otherwise, I'm pretty much done with this discussion.

Submitted by lambert on

And if you can stop characterizing considered policy positions based on a lot of hard work as "revealed wisdom", I think we can move ahead.


ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

And if you can stop characterizing considered policy positions based on a lot of hard work as "revealed wisdom", I think we can move ahead.

I did that once in response to what I saw as quite condescending attitudes. Don't dismiss me as some uneducated moran and I won't get defensive!

I will speak no more of it, my friend.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

It's not my fault that you led with your chin by positioning "public option" as meaningful. If you continue to take that tack, expect to get some flak for it in these parts, because "public option" was the shiny non-object that made the left take its eyes off the prize during this rare HCR wave, and it keeps coming back from the dead in advocacy from MoveOn, big bloggers, etc.

The official left-side narrative is "too bad we didn't get 'public option,'" rather than, "too bad we didn't kill or marginalize (kill is better) the health-insurance industry, like every other modern country has."

We'd love to see more single-payer (or, IMHO, even better: socialized medicine) advocacy. What do you have in mind?

Submitted by lambert on

People who read this thread can see where the evidence is, and where it isn't, and award their TKOs accordingly.

* * *

As for open 24/7, of course. Single payer wouldn't be alive today if not for the forcefulness of its advocates -- coupled with the fact that it's the superior policy alternative, at least for centrists* -- among whom most of the contributors here number themselves.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

It's not my fault that you led with your chin by positioning "public option" as meaningful.

One "at least" comment in a post that was about killing the current bill through specific forms of direct action doesn't count as "leading with the chin" in my book. And of course I expect to catch flak for my positions--I actually get it from all sides--since that's what blogging is about.

Go ahead and take issue with my use of 'meaningful', but as you see with Valhalla, there's a way to not be condescending and rude about it with an ostensible ally who might be receptive to your ideas, research and conclusions. Saying "good god" isn't getting off on the right foot, especially when ignoring my thesis.

Now, again, I posted what I thought was some common ground. Care to start there and discuss how we might kill the bill and create space for single-payer? I laid out an outline and I was kinda hoping for feedback on that...

Submitted by lambert on

It's really no good continuing to repeat that a policy is a negotiating position as a response to the arguments that the (a) policy can never get down to the details where the devil is because it does not exist other than a marketing slogan, and (b) the Versailles factions pushing (from HCAN down to the access bloggers) it can't be trusted to deliver on it, in any case, based on their track record. We do understand the 11-dimensional point you're trying to make.

You're trying to put a bubble in your back pocket! Na ga happen.

I'm not seeing a lot of response on the homework issues that hipparchia raises, for example. Have you considered doing some? And have you considered rethinking labeling the results of research "opinion," particularly when you're not willing to provide evidence and links of your own?

NOTE Massive tinkering since first post a few minutes ago.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

you're not willing to provide evidence and links of your own?

I found research when I was arguing against the GOP's position last year and didn't dig it up (which is why I indicated I had no linky) because I'm as interested in doing so as I am in accepting condescending homework that assumes I couldn't possibly have done any over the last year because I disagree with the community's revealed wisdom. I also have seen the things you've posted before now. I have reached a different conclusion based on my reading, personal philosophy, assessment of the current political situation, etc.

From where I sit, I'm here to provide tools for action and not go toe-to-toe with policy wonks and prove I've done research on your pet issue. Rather than debating the number of angels on the proverbial pinhead, I'm more curious to see how folks propose to do something about defeating the current bill and creating the space for the one you want to see. Because without action, all of this is impotent noise and the merits of a specific plan moot.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm all for tactics, like NV, that I believe are morally right and effective.

And if the tactics aren't used in service of a meaningful policy objective, then isn't that worse than useless, because of the opportunity cost.

As for the homework on policy, I'll take it as read that you've done it. I don't see the results on your site. Where should I look?

As for the ad communitam commentary... I'm going to use the tactic of leaving it alone. I suggest that others do likewise; it speaks for itself.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

if the tactics aren't used in service of a meaningful policy objective, then isn't that worse than useless, because of the opportunity cost.

Which is why I advocate using them for single-payer, the goal we both agree upon.

Yet we must also acknowledge political realities and be ready to use whatever we get out of the process as the next stepping stone. I don't view this bill as HCR, nor will I see one with any form of PO as HCR. The sausage will be not the end, but another milestone in our long journey. I won't see anything that emerges short of single-payer as a loss, unless it be in the Gandhian sense of success being a series of glorious defeats.

As for the homework on policy, I'll take it as read that you've done it. I don't see the results on your site. Where should I look?

Wow, now I have to show my work? I only addressed the PO itself once on my blog in response to some shit Michael Steele sent out. I have not dwelt on policy details, 'cept insofar as to counter RWNJ lies occasionally or when it was germane to some other discussion on tactics and strategies. But I really appreciate the implication of your line of questioning!

As for the ad communitam commentary... I'm going to use the tactic of leaving it alone. I suggest that others do likewise; it speaks for itself.

Much like the ad hominems that were lobbed my way because I dared suggest a PO could be a fallback? Yes, having it suggested that I'm blind, avoiding debate, and some faux "progressive" or remedial student...nothing like impugning somebody and their intentions to make the community feel very welcoming. As does the meta "leaving it alone" by not leaving it alone.

Now that I've vented...

I certainly am not going to arrive at your conclusion in the current environment. Sorry, I'm about as receptive to alternatives as a Tea Bagger is to Obama's birth certificate. Yet while I'm not entirely convinced thus far I am always open to reconsidering my position. That's why I would appreciate respectful debate.

So I tried ratcheting things down, as I hope you've now seen in my previous comment. Can we please focus on the common ground and build on that? TIA.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

One of my favorites from Dune, and so very true. It's the power that Progressives in the House could have, but they choose not to use it, and it's the power that the Blue Dogs do have because they use it.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

And frankly, any bill that has a whiff of Stupak or Nelson is Dead To Me. I don't care what else it has in it.

I realize I'm in the minority on that one, but what the hell. I'm used to it. ;-)

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

...on Stupak/Nelson.

Dunno if the Prog Caucus would be still willing to stand up on that, though. They're still pols, afterall! But if we agitated enough...

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm not, however, going to accept that "Good god" is an inappropriate reaction in the face of what "public option" has done to health-care reform, especially given how much effort I've put into killing that destructive meme only to keep having to play whack-a-zombie with it.

Perhaps you'd care to update your post to deal with the fundamental problem I and others have pointed out, that legitimizing "public option" is putting a rotten apple in the bushel.

I'll be very happy to check out the rest of the bushel if it doesn't have known tainted fruit in it.

I'm not going to tell you what to write (or delete), just telling you that so long as your proposal contains the foundational mistake of advocating for "public option" it cannot stand up as sensible in my book.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

Perhaps you'd care to update your post to deal with the fundamental problem I and others have pointed out, that legitimizing "public option" is putting a rotten apple in the bushel.

My post is not about the PO and the thread stands on its own. Given your insistence on saying I advocate a PO and your refusal to consider anything else I've written, I don't give a flying fuck about your book. How about them apples?

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on can only see rotten apples. That is what's sad.

I offered an olive branch, and a way to move discussion forward on how to mobilize and kill the Senate bill. If you want to stick with the strawman and ignore everything else, I really don't have anything more to say to you that doesn't involve invective.

ntoddpax's picture
Submitted by ntoddpax on

But here are some things I really would've liked to see, especially once I clarified that I'm not advocating a PO (whatever the fuck that means on this thread):

1) More observations like Valhalla's. In many respects we were talking past each other because of my vagueness and the wonkishness of folks here.

2) Less "oh god" and "how can you not see" and "homework." I'm actually not an entirely fucking stupid person and can approach lots of things with an open mind when it appears people respect where I'm coming from.

3) Some benefit of the doubt when I say something about my intentions or meaning.

For me the jury is, in fact, still out on what I think we all have been calling a PO in this discussion, Val's contributions notwithstanding. Partly because I'm interested in single-payer as the end game and want to keep mind open about possible contingencies--that's why I always caution people to ignore the Magnet Ball shit.

Perhaps hearing different interpretations of the material out there colliding with my own evolving understanding could convince me you all do in fact have a monopoly on the Truth. Regardless, musing about potential fallback positions is not advocacy from my POV: my advocacy has been limited to single-payer and thinking about how to deal with what Congress is going to spit out.

So I noted that House progs might accept a PO, even without eliminating Stupak/Nelson or 1332. I do think that's not the end of the world, and while I would be game to continue debating the merits of my ambiguous position, I think it's more important right now to figure out how the fuck we even get to the table in the first place. You know, what 99.9% of my post was about.

I think even the shit sandwich as is will buy us good things, as I've told people who believe I'm an idiot for wanting to kill it (see what I mean about getting it from all sides?). We're gonna get more Medicaid dollars and monies for FQHCs in VT, for example. I still think the bill entrenches ins cos and makes further reform harder, which is why I want to have a real threat to kill it.

If there were a PO of some flavor, even chocolate (which I hate), we'd still have some etch mark on the glass around which a crystal can form (don't tell me I can't mix metaphors). Even with 1332. Even throwing women under the bus.

If we got a Vermont Model, that would be better. Still not enough, which is why I'm not advocating that, either, as a national solution or the extent of reform at home.

Anyway, I'm officially done with this thread and look forward to picking up a discussion somewhere else about how to get a single-payer system in place. Somebody else can have the last word if they want.

*munches on apple*