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Krugman asks a simple question, which we answer with two questions

Missed The Shrill One's column yesterday, where he asks this question:

Why has the Obama administration been silent, at least so far, about one of President Obama’s key promises during last year’s campaign — the promise of guaranteed health care for all Americans?

And his answer:

Finally — and this is, I suspect, the real reason for the administration’s health care silence — there’s the political argument that this is a bad time to be pushing fundamental health care reform, because the nation’s attention is focused on the economic crisis. But if history is any guide, this argument is precisely wrong.

Don’t take my word for it. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, has declared that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Indeed. F.D.R. was able to enact Social Security in part because the Great Depression highlighted the need for a stronger social safety net. And the current crisis presents a real opportunity to fix the gaping holes that remain in that safety net, especially with regard to health care.

And Mr. Obama really, really doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of Bill Clinton, whose health care push failed politically partly because he moved too slowly: by the time his administration was ready to submit legislation, the economy was recovering from recession and the sense of urgency was fading.

One more thing. There’s a populist rage building in this country, as Americans see bankers getting huge bailouts while ordinary citizens suffer.

I agree with administration officials who argue that these financial bailouts are necessary (though I have problems with the specifics). But I also agree with Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who argues that — as a matter of political necessity as well as social justice — aid to bankers has to be linked to a strengthening of the social safety net, so that Americans can see that the government is ready to help everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

Well, my view is that the Obama administration's priority isn't, ya know, people getting sick and dying; it's Big Money, which is why Obama whipped to get TARP passed NOW NOW NOW with no accountability and no oversight. And whatever else the insurance companies' failed business model of denying health care for profit might be, it's definitely Big Money. I mean, that would explain the Harry and Louise ads*, right?

So, I would humbly ask The Only Reason To Read The Times two questions:

1. When are you going to abandon the weasel word "universal," which is code for keeping the insurance companies on the tit, and start using the words "single payer," which you and everybody else know is the best solution?

2. When you are going to stop being defeatist about what's "politically feasible," and help "make Obama do it"?

NOTE See, there are plenty of us who are "going naked" without insurance right now, as you point out, and very few of us are getting diagnoses, even for pain, because if we can't do anything with the result, why be unhappy in the time left? So, what I'm picturing is a sort of "Make a Wish Foundation" for grown-ups where, instead of dying as profit centers, drugged and hooked up to machines, we go to Capitol Hill, and die there -- and maybe accomplish something. Possibly that might get some attention?

NOTE * Which the Obama campaign, sorry, administration must regard as a great success, since they hired its creator to shill for the unqualified Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General.

UPDATE I wanted to put this column in the context of something Krugman wrote earlier this month, where the "politically feasible"MR SUBLIMINAL Sounds like weasel meme was all over everything like a cheap suit. But I can't find my post on it, or Krugman's original column or post. So, a mulligan? Not sure.

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dr sardonicus's picture
Submitted by dr sardonicus on

When the economy is weak, the argument will be that we can't afford to put the insurance companies out of business and spread the hardship further. Conversely, in a strong economy, the argument will be that we shouldn't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It's a good discussion to have, though, because the more people realize that the reason we don't have single payer has nothing to do with health care whatsoever, and everything to do with how the US economy is structured, the closer we get to figuring out an effective strategy for bringing single payer about. The economic ramifications are something to think about, because in a depression, it's not the bankers that get hurt, it's people like you and me.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I am glad you posted about this. I think it was very wrong of Krugman to withhold from his readers the information that a single payer system would save taxpayers $350 BILLION a year. Even if you think it is not politically feasible, as an economist you are obligated to give your readers the facts.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

FireDogLake is having a reader survey on what we want them to cover and health care is one of the choices. Not single payer, but still, good to get health care up on the radar and in the past FDL has done pro single payer posts.

connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

it came in eeeemail with the exact same response I put in the Think Progress thread on what we thought they should be doing in the next few months:

"We want to know what you think. Share your ideas in the comments section or via e-mail."

I am hoping that this site will start to lead in a big push for single payer universal healthcare. You have the connections, the researchers, the progressive and liberal eyeballs that can lead the push. Incremental changes will not work and single payer will do more for the economy than a lot of the money they are just dumping into the economy willy-nilly, never mind wasting it on subsidizing insurance companies.

65% of Americans would be happy to be enrolled in Medicare. Open it up to everyone! And the majority of Doctors want this too.

We do not have long (March?) before Tom Daschle will begin to talk about reforming healthcare and it is starting to look like we will need a well co-ordianted and sustained effort to get them to go against the big money lobbyists for the insurance companies and make the right decisions for America.

Please help to lead us to this because too many people are, literally, dying while waiting for single payer and our economy can no longer afford to waste money on the middle men in the insurance industry.

Most people made "site operations" suggestions that have more to do with the posting and commenting on the site. Feel free to rate it up and to add your 3 cents worth in the thread. Right now it is #6 in the top rated comments, behind site function issues and jokes.

Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

January 30, is the 127 anniversary of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was an Aquarius!

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Gephardt has a diary over at Daily Kos pushing one of the "consensus" organizations. If you want to keep informed on their future events you can sign up here.

First Name: single
last name: payer
email: Your Actual Email
organization: HR 676
City: Washington
Zip Code: 20500

if enough people sign up like that they will get the message. This is a good psychological tool and makes it more difficult for them to marginalize us.

Submitted by jawbone on

at least for us lefties and the lefts' objectives.

Pretty scalding criticism, actually. Does agree with BIO that Obama is Center Right. And his goals a more in line with St. Ronnie than, oh, FDR, JFK, LBJ, MLK, WJC (altho' Newberry would not agree with the last president).

My reading of Obama, which others vehemently disagree with, but cannot point to a single counter-example of, is that he learns everything the hard way, he does not change his mind until there has been a catastrophic failure of his hardened ideology, and even then it is a minimal change. Consider the history of his support for stimulus. Or his proposals on health care. Consider his repetition of bi-partisanship, and then he can't even deliver a single Republican vote for a pre-compromised stimulus bill. And yet, there is no sign that he is going to change direction.

Obama is also not a progressive, nor is he really digital. Much is made of his blackberry, but in terms of governing method, Obama is a top downer. That means a few guys make decisions, and then they figure out how to sell them. They want information from the bottom, but they don't change direction based on an interactive sense of the bottom. This top down style is all 20th century. Obama's world has no room for any center of power but Obama. It is about control. He's just willing to use new tools to get that control, and he spends more money on them. Obama is a pyramid President: he sits at the top of that pyramid, and everyone marches to it. The problem with the pyramid is that it is too expensive to run. Obama is going to have to gut the rest of the economy to keep our very expensive financial pyramid in place, and he is sucking virtually every loose quarter in the left to fund his political pyramid. Obama is no different in political organization than George W. Bush, merely more technologically savvy. He is not the web, he is TV 2.0 - the paradigm that the pop era power structure has wanted to get to for some time. Here it is, in color, High Definition, with surround sound.

Obama is a one termer, because the Republican Party will never go along with sensible policies, and Obama is going to erode his own political base. Obama is like the invasion of Iraq: almost no one has the guts to defy him from his own side, and yet privately, many people are angry at how far to the right he has run. This hasn't shown up in polling yet, but it is waiting for his first major stumble. It comes out when he shafts some group on some small thing, like contraception for poor women in the stimulus bill.

The other reality is that while people want Obama to work out, they don't like his actual policies. The support for escalation in Afghanistan, is poor, and almost non-existent among the young. The support for his version of health care, ranks below other ideas. The support for his "middle class tax cut" is also thin and below more spending. Taken individually Obama is a 51% President at best - and that is where his approval number will reach at the cross roads some 3 years from now, because basically, that's what happens to almost every President. At that point, the bad decisions he is making now, with the resurgence of TARP - that is the government taking on toxic assets - will haunt him. I remember you talking about the idiocy of the theory behind buying up toxic waste on the taxpayer dime. Or lack of theory more exactly. Well there it is.

The most important principle of Obama is "no rich people shall come to harm." Sure they have to give up some bonuses and private jets, but everyone who was in charge, will stay in charge. The people, get the responsibility and the sacrifice, and the loose change from the bankers as they stride boldly to their jobs.

Also, Stirling has loads of new posts on the economy over at The Agonist.