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Glenn Greenwald summarizes Obama/Dems' approach to "Public Option"- Waiting for PO

It's a hoot while being on point, deadly serious, and terribly depressing. Probably has gone viral by now, but here's the link to Greenwald's Waiting for PO*.

Basically, this is how things have progressed:

Progressives: We want a public option!

Democrats/WH: We agree with you totally! Unfortunately, while we have 50 votes for it, we just don't have 60, so we can't have it. Gosh darn that filibuster rule.

Progressives: But you can use reconciliation like Bush did so often, and then you only need 50 votes.

Filbuster reform advocates/Obama loyalists: Hey progressives, don't be stupid! Be pragmatic. It's not realistic or Serious to use reconciliation to pass health care reform. None of this their fault. It's the fault of the filibuster. The White House wishes so badly that it could pass all these great progressive bills, but they're powerless, and they just can't get 60 votes to do it.

[Month later]

Progressives: Hey, great! Now that you're going to pass the bill through reconciliation after all, you can include the public option that both you and we love, because you only need 50 votes, and you've said all year you have that!

Democrats/WH: No. We don't have 50 votes for that (look at Jay Rockefeller). Besides, it's not the right time for the public option. The public option only polls at 65%, so it might make our health care bill -- which polls at 35% -- unpopular. Also, the public option and reconciliation are too partisan, so we're going to go ahead and pass our industry-approved bill instead . . . on a strict party line vote.

This is destined to become a classic, at least for reference purposes, so bookmark this column of Greenwald's.

(There are links embedded in the original, but I can't get my cursor to highlight for easy linking. Apologies. Just go read the whole thing; it should be read in its entirety anyway.)

*Waiting for PO encompasses all progressive, anti-war, anti-torture, pro-social good legislation thus far....

No votes yet


Submitted by lambert on

Yeppers. That's brilliant. All the "progressives" vilifying Joe Lieberman are just part of that...

Submitted by lambert on

... to a new analytical tool, not making a claim about the main point of the article.

If anything, I'm with VL. But who cares? It's not like there are lives at stake, or anything.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

*Waiting for PO encompasses all progressive, anti-war, anti-torture, pro-social good legislation thus far....

I'm sorry, not to be snarky, but just what "progressive, anti-war, anti-torture, pro-social good legislation thus far" were you thinking of? Coz I can't think of any that this administration has been pushing. Maybe some pro-social good (can't think of any but there may be some that slipped under my radar), but I wouldn't put any of the proposed health insurance reform bills in that category. But anti-war? anti-torture?

It's not just the villain rotation here, it's that what's being proposed is so weak-tea and somewhat wrongheaded, and the need is so urgent as to constitute an emergency. Ditto TARP, the stimulus, and probably the jobs bill. And then we get this kind of kabuki where the extreme leftmost position is taken to be the weak-tea contents of the best of the bad.

I agree. Glen's bobbled the ball here, although "villain rotation" is lovely.

Submitted by jawbone on

before Obama was president. Now, this session? I did just read that the Senate is sitting on 290 bills passed by the House. I haven't checked into that yet, but, crikey. 290 bills???

I was playing with Waiting for Godot, who never came of course...but I do wonder what those 290 bills are all about....

Grant your points, VL!

Submitted by jawbone on

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 06:34 AM

Same old, same old

There once was an Elephant and an Ass
Who worked doggedly for the [elite] ruling class
While using Chaos as fodder
For their New World Order
They buggered [all] the rest en masse


(I added words in brackets to suit my own sense of scansion...not perfect.)

Submitted by jawbone on

strongly against mandates to purchase health insurance....

During Obama's campaign, he spoke for the public option and against the mandate. But his own plan just released includes a mandate but not a public option.

Politically, that's just shoot-yourself-in-the-head stupid.


HotPeach's picture
Submitted by HotPeach on

That's brilliant!

Submitted by jawbone on

correct, but, dang, rings my bell.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 09:16 AM


Didn't you find it uncomfortable that the only specific ideas quoted in that government propaganda were those being advanced by Republicans?

Instead, I ask members of both parties to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations.

It’s in that spirit that I have sought out and supported Republican ideas on reform from the very beginning. Some Republicans want to allow Americans to purchase insurance from a company in another state to give people more choices and bring down costs. Some Republicans have also suggested giving small businesses the power to pool together and offer health care at lower prices, just as big companies and labor unions do.....I hope Democrats and Republicans can come together next week around these and other ideas.

Considering the fact that the proposal he's put forth contains no public option, the simplest way to control costs, I'd have to say from reading your link that the President is pretty much telling the Democrats it's time to fall in line with insurance industry and Republican wishes.

Not sure how that can be read any other way.


Submitted by jawbone on

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 09:32 AM

double deceit

glenn, you've written progressives out of your narrative. not surprising though, because so have almost all dem associated political activists.

this is NOT how the first act started:

"Progressives: We want a public option!"

more like this:

Progressives: We want single payer!

Dem party elite: That's not possible [based on bogus polling data -s], but a public option is almost as good and that is possible!

Dem party supporters: OK. We want a public option!

Progressives: That's a stupid, non-workable, neoliberal policy that has failed every time it's been tried! We want single payer or some other policy that makes sense!

Dem party supporters: Single payer advocates are purity trolls no one can work with! We are the real progressives, let's just ignore those ignorant, impractical, unserious, idiots. And better yet, if no one listens to them we can use the language of single payer (universal healthcare, etc) advocates and no one will know the difference.

Dem party supporters: We want a public option! We don't care if it is a puny non workable public option, just so long as we can say we have one!

.... the rest of the story is right on.

i just don't know who to be more pissed off at: the dem party elite who sold a bogus policy with dishonest propaganda or the dem party activists who chose to betray progressives in order to support the dem party elite and have now gotten burned themselves.


vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

It's amazing how few people call out "public option" for the buck-nekkid emperor it is.

Submitted by lambert on

Most of them have insurance.

It's that they burned others. And, among the access bloggers who used the "bill to shill" business models, burned others for money. Yay!

NOTE Hamsher, of course, immediately buys in to Glenn's script, since it absolves her of any responsibility for the so-called "public option" FAIL.

Submitted by jawbone on

I'm way burned out on reading comments and about Pg 18 it got into regulars arguing with one another.

....The more the citizenry is acclimated to expecting nothing from government, the more likely it is to leave this valuable social tool out in the lawn like a rusting vehicle. That makes it all the easier for a handful of people to use this tool without interference.

There will always be government, given its manifold powers to kill, enrich and control; the question is: who is willing to take ownership over it? A consistently (and intentionally) failing Democratic Party only augments the GOP claim that government is not the answer and reduces the public interest in taking ownership.

—Reality-based Liberal

Is this deliberate on the part of the ObamaRahma administration? One objective?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Euphony aside, I don't see the virtue of the "ObamaRahma" riff.

Mr. Emanuel is the blogosphere's favorite villain to rotate in to deflect blame from his boss. Rhetorically conjoining them seems to invite making that a persistent state. No?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Obama - Obama = Obama.

I think Billy Preston had a song that explained that.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... were for a racist or sexist agenda?

Would we blithely look past the particulars and say, "good show, great elucidation"?

The "public option" is a central political factor right now, one which is thwarting the medical and financial relief of millions of Americans.

Glenn has signaled in subtle ways that he gets it, but he's unwilling to call it for the deadly and plain stupid canard it is. IMHO, that matters, and I'm very disappointed in him for taking that tack.

dblhelix's picture
Submitted by dblhelix on

jawbone, consider those recent polls that are getting cited as "evidence" that a MoveOn/PCCC/access blogger-style PO somehow offsets this mendacious bill.

These progressive orgs are playing their own game of deceit, every bit as bad as the Dem "villian rotation." They commission polls asking for support levels on "govt-administered, open to everyone and Medicare-like" and tout the results as some sort of justification for their PO advocacy.

What gets polled in no way shape or form resembles anything on offer, past or present. I would also point out that SEIU (HCANt's primary partner) signed off on BaucusCare back in early July or so. All these outfits have done is added to the noise level, intentionally, to divert activists from organizing for ANY solutions in the public's best interest. MoveOn right now is running an ad boasting "The PO is back!" and citing its popularity. Govt-run, open to all and Medicare-like might well be popular, but it ISN'T what MoveOn/HCANt/PCCC/access bloggers have been pushing, now is it?

Greenwald can tut-tut all he wants about the Dems, but for once, I'm going to praise them, not bury them. I praise them for nipping this in the bud w/ a sotto voce to their enablers: You already had your PayDay, let's move on. And Greenwald in his own way is just deflecting from the moral failure of all the enablers involved.

I read an article yesterday about the likely path forward being one of incremental reforms, including adopting "Republican" ideas like federal funding for state high-risk pools. Guess what? That's an improvement on the shitty PO concept. In MD, the high-risk pool is (1) administered by the state, with its own unit of about 12 employees (2) consists of private insurance plans (3) open to those without insurance (4) somewhat higher in cost to similar plans in the private individual market (it's capped at 150%) and (5) Cost overruns are paid for by a hospital assessment (in some states, the assessment is on insurance companies).

So, let's take a look. (1)-(4) is exactly the same as the House PO. But (5) -- a-ha, you see, there isn't the unrealistic requirement that a high-risk pool should PAY FOR ITSELF WITH PREMIUMS.

So, to all of those clowns who cried and moaned on "LieberCare" Day that the craptastic PO represented the "seeds" of reform on which to build on, I say: Go build on your state's high-risk pool, or advocate for the formation of one, if needed.

Where Greenwald is dishonest is in the pretense that the PO advocacy was ever meaningful in any way at all. Sometimes "accountability now" should by looking in the mirror before throwing stones.

Submitted by lambert on

It almost seems like _______ rotation -- keep us spinning, and prevent us at all costs from moving in a straight line to a goal, any goal.

Submitted by jawbone on

the ones which exist in various people's imaginations ares not very good.

We want something universal, everybody in, nobody out, comprehensive, with the added benefit of cost saving -- an improved Medicare for All.

The idea that people with health issues will be relegated to state "high-risk" pools, like bad drivers, and have to pay extra SUCKS. But sending the difficult care cases to a state "high risk" pool sure helps the Big Health Insurance Parasites keep only the patients who don't cost them as much...hence the BHIP Profit Protection Plan from Obama and Baucus.

We need community rated universal care. We need real health CARE.

Nothing on offer is very good right now -- and Improved Medicare for All...with a robust private probably not going to happen (altho' it could through reconciliation, much more easily than the crap plans or Obama's recombination of the crap plans).

Submitted by jawbone on

Anyone think this would be on tape if the guy weren't retiring?

From Jane at FDL, where there's video:

SHADEGG: I don’t understand either bill. Both the House and Senate bills contain mandates that compel, or would compel you and I as individual Americans to buy insurance from Americas private insurance industry. I think America’s private insurance industry is the problem

STARK: So are you for a public option?

SHADDEG: Well, you could better defend a public option than you could defend compelling me to buy a product from the people that have created the problem. America’s health insurance industry has wanted this bill and the individual mandate from the get go. That’s their idea. Their idea is “look, our product is so lousy, that lots of people don’t buy it. So we need the government to force people to buy our product. And stunningly, that’s what the Congress appears to be going along with. Why would they do that?

STARK: Congressman, you’re making the progressive argument here.

SHADDEG: I’m with the progressives on this one! The notion … I mean, I completely agree with my progressive friends here. The notion of forcing Americans to buy a product they don’t want to buy from companies that aren’t doing it right right now is goofy.

Shadegg concludes:

Making the IRS the bill collector for Aetna and the rest of America’s insurance companies…Blue Cross/Blue Shield and United…isn’t the way to do it.

Jane suggests the anti-Dem ads just write themselves.

*BHIP-PPP -- Big Health Insurance Parasites' Profit Protection Plan

Or, as was said yesterday: Obama's plan is to make the public accept corporate shakedowns with government muscle.

Submitted by lambert on

... is not a vote getter (assuming the Democrats want to do anything else but heave the weak overboard and then surrender to the Republicans, which I think is, in fact the plan).

Been saying that for six months, so I'm glad Hollywood-savvy Jane Hamsher is finally catching up.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Thank God GG is calling them out.

That is how we got into this mess.

The impression management that if it weren't for Bushco, our government run by empathetic Dem party would deserve the public trust.

But it is just gamesmanship and impression management. I mean... WOW. They -- Dems -- can barely kabuki concern any more they are so over the top and down the slippery slope of corruption and oligarch prostitution.

Posture for the camera and the voter.. and low interest citizens are in denia,l and corrupt and stupid mainstream media disinforms... and no one looks closely.. and no accountability. And now Dems are in charge... and realize.. ooopsie.. now we have power... and we are called out by some.... by those of us in such an awesomely small number of the citizenry still awake... calling out the DEMS AND REPUBS who are ALL part of the government money/control/violence mafia.

Obstructionism to oligarch-friendly Obama makes it all the more surreal, since he is just as big a sell out. But it is a fight for impression management. Who cares about the real welfare of real people.

It shows how the trojan pony public option was such a Lucy football used by both Dems who knew it was much ado about nothing... at best it would have been a tiny 2% of the citizenry to be exploited... but pretty much nothing.. to show you how AWESOMELY CALLOUS our mandated and oath-taking leadership really is, on both sides of the aisle, in the WH and on the court. Wow... 3 for 3.

Wow... so Dodd like a rat leaves the sinking ship of faux-democracy, as does Evan Bayh only a super-rat for pretending he has not been a part of the problem with his speechifying. Wow. Awesome. Yeah, no accountability or responsibility.. take your rotten ill-gotten gains and enjoy your life time health care on our dimes.

Yeah... I can't believe my contempt for Prez and Congress and SC
can go deeper... but I underestimate the levels of their amorality.

To the one or two people who don't deserve that label in our government, I apologize. You know who you are. too bad most of the citizens don't.