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vastleft's picture

The A-listers won't tell you, but Bryan at Why Now? will (emphasis added):

Apparently what few members of the middle class who still exist in this country have reached their limit on paying for health insurance, and Obama et al. feel the need to herd new customers into the corporate feed pens to be drained of their last penny.

The so-called “Health Care Proposal” that the White House has posted for the latest photo op displaying Obama’s obsession with “bi-partisanship”, is, to no one’s surprise a warmed over version of the worst of the two bills that made it out of Congress – the Senate bill. Obama’s competence was barely able to cope with the Senate, and he is lost as an executive.

Obama doesn’t want any real competition for his corporate masters, so there isn’t even a reference to a “public option”, which was never defined in any case. They do intend to tax the health care benefits that a few unions have managed to secure for their members after years of negotiations, and they intend to sic the IRS on to people who object to throwing away money by giving it to insurance companies who have a track record of denying claims.

Oh, they are going to “review” rate hikes. That ought to be effective, telling companies that their 30% rate hike after a year with 30+% profit is somewhat excessive. No doubt there will be a board of former insurance company executives to advise on what is reasonable.

Note: I don't strictly agree with the incompetence frame. Obama is doing what he wants and what his overlords want. He's doing it very, very well. Who else could have reinvigorated Reaganomics at a time when pitchfork futures are so bullish?

Sure, Rome is burning and Obama's party is on track to lose huge in November, but what of it?

No votes yet


Submitted by Anne on

what we’re seeing in the Senate Bill and now in Obama’s "reform" proposal represents exactly what Obama wants, but I think it’s entirely fair to say that if he were as competent as he claimed to be, if he were any kind of leader at all, it would not have taken this long to only get this far with the agenda. And it still may die, so how good could he really be?

I think the signs were there going back a long time – for those who were willing to look and be honest about what they saw – and I think if he had taken something other than a legislative path to where he is today, no one would likely ever have heard of him, because he would have failed much, much earlier and never been on anyone’s national political radar.

I don’t imagine he really wants to have to be holding this summit; I think he had probably hoped he could push what is an increasingly Republican/conservative agenda from behind the scenes, pretending to support things he didn’t, get a bill he liked, but could still publicly whine about some, and then sign it as “just the beginning.”

What his proposal does is, finally, give him actual ownership of the policy and the agenda, regardless of whether it lives or dies. If it lives, he loses because it is terrible policy and little more than another massive handout to yet another sector of the corporate world – and he will own that. If it dies, he loses because millions of people still will not have accessible, affordable CARE, and those people, along with everyone else, will know that he never fought to get that for them.

Either way, it’s a stunning failure of leadership, and represents the template for how every other major issue will be handled – other than war, of course, because anything with “war” in it slides through Congress like greased lightning.

His incompetence as a leader, and the Senate’s total dysfunction that has become paralysis, are a double-edged sword: on the one hand, there are pressing and major issues that have not been dealt with, and on the other, we may be on the brink of being spared a massively bad attempt to “reform” the health system. My fear is that with more Republicans to work with beginning in the 2011 session, Obama will actually find it a lot easier to get terrible policy enacted, and then we are going to really be up to our necks in it.

For whatever it's worth, I don't think Obama is really, really good at much of anything; he's not even been able to transition his campaign communications strategy into the WH, and he seems puzzled that his attempts to fix things by giving speeches aren't working. That his pivot point has been toward "fix the message" instead of "do actual work to fix the problems" is entirely consistent with who Obama is; I don't know why this should surprise anyone.

I wish I knew how it was going to get better in the next three years, but I don't.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Re-animating the moribund Reaganomics agenda was almost impossible, and he's done it in style.

As Avedon put it so pithily:

Only Nixon could go to China, and only Obama could go to Hell.

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

at Dissenting Justice: White House Asks Republicans to Produce a Healthcare Plan*

A post on by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer asks Republicans to provide their plan to reform the nation's healthcare system. The White House posted President Obama's plan earlier this week.

On Thursday, President Obama will host a bipartisan healthcare summit. In advance of that summit, the White House has decided to highlight the absence of a specific Republicans plan:

You can read through [President Obama's] bipartisan ideas section by section, or you can select your health care status and find out what the proposal would mean for you. You can even submit a question for our policy staff to answer.

What you can’t do just yet is read about the Republicans’ consensus plan – because so far they haven’t announced what proposal they’ll be bringing to the table. To be sure, there are many Republicans who share the President’s conviction that we need to act on reform, and there are several pieces of Republican health care legislation out there. Previously we were told this was the House Republican bill. Is it still? We look forward to hearing whether this the proposal they'll bring. The Senate Republicans have yet to post any kind of plan, so we continue to await word from them. As of right now, the American people still don’t know which one Congressional Republicans support and which one they want to present to the public on Thursday.

President Obama has been clear that his proposal isn’t the final say on legislation, and that’s what Thursday’s meeting is all about. But after a year of historic national dialogue about reform, it’s time for both sides to be clear about what their plan is to lower costs, hold insurance companies accountable, make health insurance affordable for those without it, and reduce the deficit. A collection of piecemeal and sometimes conflicting ideas won’t do.

As we said today, we’ll be happy to post the Republican plan on our website once they indicate to us which one we should post. We hope they won’t pass up this opportunity to make their case to the American people.

[My emphasis]

Both sides, now? So the two sides are now "bipartisan" and "Republican consensus"? Good to know.

(The post, alas, goes on to applaud this as an excellent change in Obama's strategy, which I guess it is if you agree that he needs to be pushing the pile o' crap that is the White House plan. I used to enjoy reading Dissenting Justice, but he seems to be much less of a critical thinker since he returned to blogging recently, or am I just hallucinating about what the nlog was like in the past? I don't have time to check. It's a wonder, really, how many times I have felt let down by people I used to admire in the past couple of years. I feel as if I'm living out Stanislaw Lem's Futurological Congress.)

* (I thought the White House already posted it? ;>)

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"So the two sides are now 'bipartisan' and 'Republican consensus'?"

From David Broder's wet dream to God's ear.

Submitted by Anne on

said the WH had linked to. Found the GOP plan, but not the WH link - maybe I didn't look hard enough.

I did, however, find this:

Republican Ideas Included in the President's Proposal

It’s clear that the American people want health insurance reform. They aren’t interested in Democratic ideas or Republican ideas. They’re interested in the best ideas to reduce costs, guarantee choices and ensure the highest quality care.

They’re interested in ideas that will put them back in control of their own health care.

Throughout the debate on health insurance reform, Republican concepts and proposals have been included in legislation. In fact, hundreds of Republican amendments were adopted during the committee mark-up process. As a result, both the Senate and the House passed key Republican proposals that are incorporated into the President’s Proposal.

And this is interesting - from the same link (I've snipped out the expanded descrriptions):

The President remains open to other policies as well. And the purpose of the Bipartisan Summit is to review all ideas and ensure that the best ideas are included in the plan.

Review the new Republican initiatives included in the President’s Proposal

Comprehensive Sanctions Database.
(Source: H.R. 3400, “Empowering Patients First Act” (Republican Study Committee bill))

Registration and Background Checks of Billing Agencies and Individuals. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Expanded Access to the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Liability of Medicare Administrative Contractors for Claims Submitted by Excluded Providers.
(Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Community Mental Health Centers. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Limiting Debt Discharge in Bankruptcies of Fraudulent Health Care Providers or Suppliers. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Use of Technology for Real-Time Data Review. (Source: Roskam Amendment offered in House Ways & Means Committee markup)

Illegal Distribution of a Medicare or Medicaid Beneficiary Identification or Billing Privileges. (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”)

Study of Universal Product Numbers Claims Forms for Selected Items and Services Under the Medicare Program. The (Source: H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act”, Roskam Amendment offered in House Ways & Means Committee markup)

He really loves him some Republican ideas, doesn't he?

Still looking in vain for the single-payer idea...

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

Feather castles in the air...sounds like the PO pony to me:

koan's picture
Submitted by koan on

I’m going to call it the “edifice complex”, the way Obama, the Blue Dogs, and the Republicans worship corporations.



madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

the summit, according to the WSJ?

The discussion will center on four themes: controlling health-care costs, overhauling the insurance market, reducing the deficit and expanding insurance coverage, the aide said.

/rant on - approach with caution

Hey, I've got an idea to reduce the deficit: Get the fuck out of the Middle East and Afghanistan, and stay out. How much money will that save a year? Literally, hundreds of billions - almost a trillion since 2001, according to Oh, and raise taxes on the wealthy like Clinton did. Revenue coming in, a lot less money going out. Voila, deficit reduction. Simplicity itself.

Honestly, may I ask what a deficit reduction discussion is even doing in a health care summit? If you have good intentions, you don't play bullshit political games with the health of your citizens. You do what you need to do and damn the fucking deficit; you make up the costs elsewhere, as I just suggested (and please, as if no one else could think of that? We've all been saying it for years!!!).

But no, the Democrats DO NOT WANT UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. They just don't. And they'll give any excuse, generate endless word fogs and talking points, to obscure that obvious fact. They don't want to deliver it because, for the most part, they are heartless, warmongering, woman-hating sociopaths. Fuck you, Obama, and fuck your fucking enablers in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party!

Stepping away from the keyboard now, before my brain asplodes.

/rant off

michaelwb's picture
Submitted by michaelwb on

And , of course improving actual health care - not remotely part of their discussion.

So there are two flavors of reform -

a) get inadequate health care because you can't afford it

b) have the government help the insurance companies drain your remaining money away before get inadequate health care because you can't afford it.

Ah, choices.

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

Whut you said (plugging ears vs leaking brain, myself)

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

I'm not questioning Obama's intelligence, just his competence to be a leader, an executive. He avoids making decisions, He won't make recess appointments, because that would be a decision. He wouldn't even decide what kind of dog to own, he left it to Ted Kennedy.

The Gates "controversy" is a good example of his problem. He made a statement in a news conference about the situation, but as soon as the statement was challenged, he backed off. He then set up the photo op "beer summit" to show that he hadn't actually made any decision on the conflict.

He wants other people to "own" the final result. He wants to mediate, not decide issues. That wouldn't be so crippling if he actually was surrounded by people with differing opinions, but his inner circle doesn't actually have any diversity.

To succeed you have to listen to differing views, decide on a plan, and make that plan happen. You have to establish goals and define the program to meet them.

When the only people you listen to on health care reform are industry representatives, it is fairly obvious that the result will be in the best interests of those representatives. You can't negotiate a labor contract if you only talk to the company.

He's not a leader. His sole "executive" experience was being the object of an election campaign, and there is no way of knowing if he made any decisions of note during the campaign. He is more suited to backroom deals in the Senate, emulating his chosen mentor, Joe LIEberman.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on


Other than computerized medical records, which will no doubt be funded over and over again, he shows no passion or even interest in any particular outcome in any sphere of life, his rapid bodily ascent to the White House notwithstanding.

Thus, he's precisely where he wants to be when he's rudderless, treading water, seemingly chasing his tail, taking two steps forward and back and so forth. He's got a gift for nothingness. We're no longer waiting for Godot, he's our Chief Executive.

Failure to him would be being pinned down to something earthly and meaningful.

You can't change the fundamental nature of partisan politics with policy, only with abstract, 11-dimensional awesomeness. And he's hurtling us into an existential void of nothingness as fast as he can and with extreme suaveness. Seems pretty competent at it to me.

Fredster's picture
Submitted by Fredster on

They always love to through this one out:

Enhancing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The GOP plan creates new incentives to save for current and future health care needs by allowing qualified participants to use HSA funds to pay premiums for high deductible health insurance.

But how the hell do working class people afford to set aside money for this when they are barely making ends meet?

Alex01's picture
Submitted by Alex01 on

"I think his natural habitat is

By vastleft on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 3:27pm

This is like saying Obama is shiftless. The man is smart, and is making conscious choices to do the most Republican thing possible. Continue wars, not prosecute Bush, Cheney, et al, screw the environment, screw the health care issue, the list goes on and on.

Barack just plainly does not give a $#!t, and that is purely Republican. He is a Trojan horse, and he made it through the gates with nary a second glace from most Democrats.

A hard pill to swallow, especially for those who did not reseach Mr. Obama and voted for him. Because, surely, anyone who looked at his record would not be surprised by anything that's happened in the last 12 months.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Bringing in the racial dogwhistle, "shiftless."

What he's doing is an elitist's game, playing meta-meta-meta-philosophical politics.

It's not about being lazy or dumb, it's about being ethereally detached from the real-world implications of policy and rhetoric. About being seduced by the siren songs of neoliberalism, neoconservatism, the Beltway's far-right concepts of centrism and bipartisanship, and the supremacy of academic and business best-and-brightest types. About preferring the feel of wonkery to making commonsensical and empathetic moral judgments and actions. It's about preferring virtually every alternative to being a populist liberal.

All things being equal, yes, he prefers the Republican way, the corporate way, the imperial way.

But it seems that even more, he wants to hover above us as a celestial force of amorphous good. Concrete policy is an earthly burden he seems repulsed by. Hence, he keeps toying with the notion of a nationwide salon where healthcare reform is debated while opting for the least aspirational, least meaningful, most corrupted, and most vaguely specified terms when getting down to details becomes basically unavoidable.

So, no, he's not dumb or "shiftless." He's above it all. Frighteningly above it all, and equally frighteningly defaulting to Reaganesque politics whenever the rubber actually does meet the road.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Americans are hope fiends. We always see hope somewhere down every road, chiefly because honestly looking at the present situation would destroy just about everything we hold as reality. Personally, as I often state and catch readership hell for, I do not like hope. When Obama ran it up the flagpole for us to salute, and so many saluted, my blood chilled. Made me feel that we were all in deeper shit than I had supposed (Nevertheless, I reluctantly voted for Obama. At the time it seemed It was either Obama, or continuing war, debt, and diminishing civil liberties. Ha!) Hope is magic thinking, believing that somehow, some larger unknown force is in motion to set things right.

The world is what it is, and its injustices are set right by peoples and nations morally intact enough to challenge its malevolent forces.

Hope is political pabulum for an infantilized nation.

Seems to me that Obama truly thinks he's Hopemaster-in-Chief, a Johnny Bullshitseed spreading good karma to a tragically gridlocked nation. Failing that, he'll channel Grandpa Ronnie, 'cuz he was a "transformative" communicator, too, and the serious people always want more war and more corporate control.