On election night 2008, i had the chance to speak with my newly reelected representative in a setting more private than the average meeting with a politician. That was quite a night, wasn’t it? After eight long years of Bush-Cheney running all sorts of rampant over everything from our civil liberties to our economy and a few foreign nations in between it was hard not to savor a moment where so much seemed, once again possible. I looked down on the twinkling lights of my little city from the penthouse suite of our luxury hotel and felt hope…even through my well-cultivated cynicism.
I asked my representative, "What’s the agenda when you return to Washington?"
I did not get any "inside information". He told me that the newly enlarged Democratic majority led by the newly elected Democratic President would first work to stabilize the financial crisis and then move on to tackling health care reform. If i remember correctly, the goal after that was Iraq…but i can’t be sure. It was a long time ago now and i’m not always the best listener.
We’ll skip over the Democratic Party’s idea of stabilization and financial industry reform. To some degree that situation was forced upon them, and while they continue to do a shitty job from a Main Street perspective, that should come as no surprise. Look at who filled their campaign coffers.
Health care was the battle that the Democrats chose. Many (if not most) of us who voted for them wanted that battle. It’s a good battle, because the US needs health care reform badly. Too many hard-working Americans fall victim to the lack of decent health care, and far too many have their financial future ruined by our current system designed to produce ever-increasing quarterly profits rather than providing health care.
I’ve yet to read anyone who says that either of the bills we’re looking at are good. There are plenty of people who want the reform badly, but see a process so botched that they’d rather kill the bills than accept table scraps from the insurance industry. Of course, there is a chorus of professional and amateur pundits telling us to be satisfied with incremental improvements and that what we see is the very best that we can hope to get right now.
Bullshit. If there’s one thing that’s perfectly clear, it’s that from the perspective of Democratic leadership the most important thing is not health care reform itself. The important thing is to be able to say that the Democratic Party achieved "health care reform". When the President says that he’s 95% satisfied he’s not necessarily saying that he likes 95% of the bill (though he might be saying that). He’s saying that he’s satisfied by any bill reaching his desk for signature.
He’s already comparing himself to FDR and making statements about how no other Democratic President has achieved what he’s about to achieve. See, this isn’t about the reform, it’s about electoral politics.
Making the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies happy means campaign contributions; that much is clear and understandable…if sleazy. The problem is that there’s some sort of alternate reality generator running in Washington D.C. that completely disconnects politicians from their constituents. The GOP is salivating at the passage of "Obamacare", because it will be the political equivalent of a two by four with framing spikes pounded through. Not only have the Republicans got the kind of change they can believe in, they’re going to bash Democrats over the head with it for years to come.
LBJ famously gave up the South for a generation to do the right thing. Mr. Obama can make no such claim, because he’s not doing the right thing. He’s setting the stage for a grand screwing over of the American people that will cost his party at the polls for at least as long as LBJ’s civil rights actions. But that is apparently okay by him so long as he can say, "I signed a health care reform bill."
The apologists cry that something is better than nothing reeks of hollow, political expediency. Do any of them really think that either of these bills (or the reconciled version of both) will be significantly improved upon in the near future? I know that it’s the popular meme to throw at the discontented, but really…how about showing us some examples of that process that are less than four decades old.
I want health care reform, and while i fully understand that politics is the art of the possible, i do not accept that trope as an excuse for doing a thoroughly shitty job. Negotiations are always about the possible, but only a fool starts them by offering less than what he’s willing to accept in the end.
Then again, "Democrats on Crack" explains a lot in very few words, doesn’t it?