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On HCR, Corporatist Dems Aren’t Done Screwing Us Yet

10:03 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

House H. R. 3962

On Monday, Jon Walker of Firedoglake asserted that state-based exchanges as formulated in the Democratic Senate’s health care bill, which divides state-based exchanges into two and provides states with the option of further dividing them, are designed in such a way that they would not effectively control costs and thus, Jon says, are “clearly doomed to fail.”

Because of the undemocratic nature of the United States Senate and because the current Democratic supermajority Senate is occupied by wannabe emperors and presidents like Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, efforts to reform our health care system have been reduced to this, a provision for the creation of piecemeal exchanges that won’t control costs.

Well, there is also the House’s bill. On Nov 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which called for the creation of a public health insurance option. Even though the version of the public option that the House finally settled on is weaker than others that were proposed, when combined with the national exchanges that are also in the House bill, it would have done far more to bend the cost curve than what is in the Senate Democrats’ bill. Put simply, the public option is foundational to real health care reform.

And so now attention turns to the conference between House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and the Obama administration, where a final bill will be forged. As everyone believes that the public option is off the table, Sam Stein at HuffPost reports that, for House Democrats,

“the main issue on the radar is to try and ensure that newly created health insurance exchanges are national (the House version) and not state-based (the Senate version).”

(Of course, many on the right, left, and center, including Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos think that the focus should be on removing the individual mandate, which turns American citizens into customers of private insurers, requiring us by law to buy insurance companies’ low-quality products, but…)

Because the Obama administration has to be able to say that 30 million Americans will experience the joy of having quality health insurance new customers will be forced by law to buy low-quality products in order to sell the Democrats’ bad joke to the American people, House Democrats appear to be gearing up to wage instead an epic battle in order to ensure that the type of exchanges that will work best worst for the American people will win the day.

Yes, as House Democrats lightly draw their latest line in the sand, which they will yet again move, we can rest assured that the confrontation between these weak failures in the House and the sellouts in the Obama administration and the Democratic Senate will end with great success with yet another – their final – failure.

According to Stein, among our champions will be Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn), who said:

“I’m going to give you my own view, which is the House view, which is that I think we need a federal insurance exchange…. I think we’ve got to look closely at this. I think that it’s much easier… to keep insurance companies in check — it is simpler to administer. We’re going to have a checkerboard here [with the Senate bill]. And also I think you have to take a look at the political reality. Implementing reform is going to be much more difficult in some states than in others.”

Now, how reassuring is that! This is indeed the same Rep. Rosa DeLauro who has done such a great job slapping lipstick on Nelson’s anti-abortion pig.

And this is what far too many on the left want to put their faith in, right?

Well, Stein quotes one unnamed health care reform activist as saying:

“It’s hard to imagine how Ben Nelson would get on board with national exchanges.”

Indeed.

Translation: we won’t even get national exchanges.

If Nelson doesn’t abuse Senate procedures to single-handedly screw us all over yet again, Blanche Lincoln, or Mary Landrieu, or Emperor Joe Lieberman will.

So suck it up, America.

And be sure to whip out your wallets when the DCCC, the DSCC, and the OFA come calling to ask you for campaign contributions so you can help elect even more ineffective and/or sellout corporatist Democrats.

Here’s a thought: by the time Obama and congressional Democrats are done screwing up what was supposed to have been health care reform and condemning millions of Americans to become the customers of unprincipled and untrustworthy private insurers, we’re all going to regret that we ever empowered these failures to screw us all over in the first place.

This isn’t what I voted for in ’06 and ’08.

Happy New Year, btw.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

Health Care Reform, The “Obama” Brand, and Liberal/Conservative Opinion

8:11 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Earlier today, I wrote that we must work hard

“to bring Obama down from his lofty heights, where he sits far too comfortable in the incorrect belief that, because he has such a nice smile, he is a political immortal, and therefore can screw over the American people while patting them on their heads and getting their campaign contributions and their votes.”

This assertion requires further explanation.

Allow me to provide some of the evidence upon which it is based.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll, respondents were categorized according to the following criteria: age, gender, race, income, political party affiliation and political philosophy [this last criterion – political philosophy – being broken down into three: liberal (left), moderate (center), and conservative (right)].

When asked "Do you support or oppose allowing Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase Medicare coverage?" here is how respondents who said “support” broke down in terms of political philosophy:

Liberals (82%); Moderates (68%); Conservatives (52%)

Medicare is so popular today that even Republicans tell their supporters that they want to protect it. And so we see high marks all around.

When asked "Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans?" here is how the political philosophies of respondents who said “support” broke down:

Liberals (85%); Moderates (66%); Conservatives (33%)

Over the past few months, the public option has been tied to Obama and Democrats. And the "support" answers shift accordingly, with more liberals liking it and fewer conservatives liking.

And when asked "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling – health care?" here’s how the “approve” answers broke down:

Liberals (88%); Moderates (44%); Conservatives (17%)

Forget specific proposals like Medicare buy-in or public option.

Simply throw out the "Obama" brand (i.e. drop Obama’s name into the question) in reference to handling health care, and even more liberals and even fewer conservatives think they like it.

Liberals think they love whatever it is being done by “Obama” (“it” not being defined) and conservatives think they hate whatever it is being done by “Obama” (“it” not being defined).

Our problem is not that Americans don’t like the public option or the Medicare buy-in proposal.

They do.

Our problem is that the “Obama” brand is still going way too strong among Americans who identify themselves as liberals, as it also is among far too many progressives, despite all the evidence that he’s not at all what he appears to be and that he isn’t doing what most Americans want him to do.

We have to do our part to return Obama to earth, where he can be held accountable for what he does and does not do.

We have to do it not because we hate Obama.

We have to do it because Obama won’t do what the American people want him to do on a wide variety of issues until he has to do more than flash his smile in order to collect contributions and get votes that he doesn’t deserve.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” Moment

10:21 am in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Obama’s “Mission Accomplished”

This morning, I watched the spectacle of the United States Senate passing legislation that is still sometimes called health care reform, though it is not, and thought about how the Obama administration will now work far harder to push House Democrats to accept this bad joke on the American people than Obama or Rahm Emanuel ever pushed a single Senator who caucuses with Democrats to allow cloture on debate so that the United States Senate could have voted up-or-down on real health care reform with a public health insurance option.

Now Obama is saying that the government is delivering on “the promise of real, meaningful reform.” Yes, according to Obama, the country is near the end of the health care reform battle. BarbinMD at Daily Kos takes issue with this characterization: “This bill won’t be the end all, it will be the first step. Let’s not let them forget that.” I’m not sure what BarbinMD thinks this bill is a first step toward, but she’s right to say it isn’t the end.

We’re seeing Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” moment.

Jon Walker at Firedoglake argues in Senate Health Bill Passes; US Senate Fails that the big winners here are PhRMA, health insurance companies, Obama, Reid, Nelson, Lincoln, Lieberman, and, of course, the lobbyists, “who just saw their profits jump thanks to this great opportunity to show their clients just how powerful their hold on Washington really is.” Please allow me to add that it also is a win for Landrieu, but to take issue with the assertion that it’s a win for Obama, Reid, Nelson, or Lincoln. They’re celebrating now, but they’ve shot themselves in both feet politically. I’ll give Reid, Nelson, and Lincoln enough credit to say that they are intelligent enough to feel the pain. Obama, apparently, not so much. He still wants to smile big, sell the American people a lemon, and act like he feels no pain at all. Well, the damage is being done. And the pain will be felt.

SouthernDragon at Firedoglake argues that Progressives aren’t done yet and that the legislation can still be improved. True. But, with all due respect to SouthernDragon and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), there’s no excuse for accepting this monstrosity, this bad joke on the American people, even if there are a few improvements here and there.

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake aptly put it this way:

“If you’re fighting those who want a better bill in defense of this bill, you own this bill, not the bill you’d like to see but are doing nothing to advance.”

The fact is that this bill, this monstrosity that is still oddly called health care reform, though it is not, creates a huge liability for Obama, who has, in fact, made all the bad actors in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries his political partners. The private health insurers aren’t in the business of caring about people. They’re in business to make profit. And Wall Street types are certainly counting on them to profit big time. Progressives will spend the next few years highlighting examples of private insurance companies’ significant abuse and waste, and they will pin all of it on Obama, on this alliance which he has formed with all the bad actors in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, and on his failure to fight for real health care reform on behalf of the American people.

Obama can’t even claim that he’s all that sure that this bad joke will accomplish “the oft-stated goal of health reform: reducing the growth rate in health care costs and expenditures – often referred to as ‘bending the cost curve,’” as Jeanne Sahadi at CNN has put it. “That growth rate is what drives federal spending on Medicare and other federal health programs,” in case you’re wondering why anyone should care about ‘bending the cost curve.’

The few improvements to our health care system, Jon Walker says,

“come at a huge cost. There is a poorly designed tax that will cause many people’s insurance to get worse, a rollback of women’s reproductive rights, and a mandate forcing people to buy low quality, expensive insurance for unregulated private insurance companies.”

“Mission Accomplished,” Mr. President. Not.

Thanks for selling us out.

President Obama is going to spend 2010, 2011, 2012, and every year of his post-presidency learning that he can’t sell empty promises to his base the way he did as Candidate Obama in 2008.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos, where comments are far from kind...]

Weiner the Whining Weakling

11:42 am in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Ok. Now we have people running around the Lake displaying an email from Rep. Anthony Weiner entitled “Let’s talk about it,” which the congressman sent to former supporters yesterday to invite us to join him for a chat session. In the email, Weiner says that he just doesn’t know what to do as he tries to save some little scrap of what once was health care reform. He says that he wants our feedback.

Seriously.

Rep. Anthony Weiner

My response:

Weiner,

We don’t need you to hold our hands as we go through any stages of grief until we accept that Barack Obama and this Democratic Congress failed us miserably so that we can fall in line for the midterm elections.

You’re not doing yourself any favors with this mealy-mouthed bullshit.

Get on the right side of this issue.

No? Not courageous enough to do it because it’s the right thing to do?

Well take a look at the polls. Do it to save yourself politically from the impending freefall as the corporatist Democrats and their enablers drive the Democratic Party off a cliff.

You must announce today that you will vote against this fucking turd and start demanding that congressional leaders use the reconciliation process.

Do it because it’s right. Do it to save your own ass. Either way, just do it.

There’s nothing else to discuss.

Obviously, I have no intention of wasting my time by talking about it with Weiner.

But for those of you who are thinking about wasting your time chatting with Weiner, you need to read the email he sent out to former supporters on Dec 15 first:

Subject: Lieberman vs. Weiner
Date: 12/15/2009 11:22:48 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: info at countdowntohealthcare dot com

Dear Brc,

Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these folks in charge?

Here’s an idea: how about we fight for a Democratic bill?

It’s time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate.

This afternoon the New York Times and other news outlets reported that Senator Lieberman was backing away from his own health care proposal, in part because I liked it.

If this wasn’t so sad, it would be amazing. Here you have the most important legislation for millions of Americans’ health and welfare, and apparently Senator Lieberman backs away from his own proposal.

Why? Because I and a professor at Yale like it.

All I can say charitably is I hope Senator Lieberman looks into his heart and does the right thing. This is not the time for anyone to act for politics, but to do the right thing. Let’s be clear, this is an idea Senator Lieberman has proposed, repeatedly. That others embrace it should not be the criteria for leaders to make decisions. It would be tragic if this is what it appears, a decision based on hurting proponents of reform not helping the millions who need affordable health care coverage.

Some may say reformers should never have praised this measure. But that suggests we all agree to live in an Alice in Wonderland world of saying the opposite of what we mean. Now is the time to talk and act on the merits of an issue. Now is the time for leaders to make the right choices, not political calculations.

Time is short. We need your help. Make sure to post this message on your Facebook wall and retweet on Twitter. Ask your friends to sign up at CountdowntoHealthCare.com and join the fight.

It will take your voice to push Congress in the right direction.

Thanks,
Anthony

WTF?

After all the failures, Weiner wants us to grovel at the feet of Joe Lieberman, to beg him to look into his heart and allow us to keep the consolation prize of a weak Medicare buy-in for Americans 55-64.

With a straight face, he says that “now is the time to talk and act on the merits of an issue.”

With leaders like Weiner, is it any wonder we’re in this position?

Rather than fight, he’s whining to us about needing feedback.

Stop enabling sellouts, Weiner.

Weakling.

Firedoglake Attacked, Again

3:59 am in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Attacks keep pouring in. Get used to it!

In the latest attack, habmed writes:

Jane, YOU ARE A COMPLETE HYPOCRITE.

One second you’re yelling about how the Republicans have an insane purity test, and now you are instituting one for Democrats!

Jimmy Carter? Howard Dean? Ralph Nader? Do these names sound familiar? These are resounding progressive election losers, whose failure helped usher in years of conservatism in this country.

The healthcare bill is not perfect, but it is a STEP in the right direction to the public option one day. Kill this bill, and you legitimize these crazed right wing fundamentalist teabaggers in the eyes of the American people, give Congress over to the Republicans in 2010 and send Sarah Palin to the White House in 2012.

Folks, guess what? AMERICA IS NOT A PROGRESSIVE COUNTRY . . . at least not yet. But historically, progressive changes in this country have came incrementally, never all at once.

President Obama has signed SCHIP, the Matthew Shepard Act. He has bought up the property to transfer the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. He has banned torture. He is withdrawing the troops from Iraq, and has a deadline for Afghanistan troops. He signed the stimulus for which the economy would be MUCH worse. He has accomplished a lot yet he doesn’t have your support. This is insane, he isn’t Jesus! He can’t’ do everything!

You Jane, along with your deluded progressive supporters are all barking mad, and when we become perennial election losers for the next several years, I am not gonna blame the Republicans or the teabaggers, I’m blaming YOU!

First, I don’t recall Jane ever yelling about Republican purity test nonsense.

Second, Jane wants to institute an “insane purity test” for Democrats, habmed?

“Insane!” habmed says.

Is it insane to defend women’s reproductive rights when, in the House’s Affordable Health Care for America Act, Congress passed legislation – with the help of 64 House Democrats – that seeks to take them away?

One Voice For Choice: Sign Up and Join the Fight Against Stupak!

Of course, one might argue that it was insane to have accepted the compromise of creating a public health insurance option (i.e. an incremental change toward universal health care) rather than fight for single-payer Medicare for All, but I don’t think it was. Jane correctly decided early on that achieving universal health care this year – with the current political configuration – would have been extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

But once it became clear that the Democrats were badly screwing up health care reform, was it insane to push for alternate routes to achieve some measure of real reform (as opposed to pretending to be happy when they pass something that isn’t reform and joining them in saying that it is reform so they can score political points)?

Excuse me for sounding reasonable, but what’s insane about arguing that candidates who run as Democrats and who are elected by the people be held accountable for failing to uphold core Democratic Party principles as set forth in the 2008 Democratic Party platform?

On page 10 of the 2008 Democratic Party platform, entitled “Renewing America’s Promise” (pdf), we read:

Covering All Americans and Providing Real Choices of Affordable Health Insurance Options. Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan.

And on page 50, we find:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

Should anyone running for elected office or currently serving in office as a Democrat be expected to support these positions? Yes.

And if by saying so I institute an “insane purity test,” I don’t care.

These positions laid out in the 2008 Democratic Party platform are about fighting for and defending Americans’ rights, and they should be fought for and defended whether they’re in the Democratic Party’s platform or not.

Our latest attacker, habmed, claims that the Senate’s turd of a health care bill “is a STEP in the right direction to the public option one day.”

And habmed shouts, “AMERICA IS NOT A PROGRESSIVE COUNTRY.”

Maybe not, but these failed leaders had A) a majority of Senators supporting the creation of a public option, B) a bill that passed in the House of Representatives that included a public option, C) the majority of the American people supporting a public option (pdf), and D) the President of the United States making public statements supporting a public option.

And still they failed to get a public option.

A public health insurance option would 1) increase competition, 2) lower costs, and 3) keep the insurance companies honest.

Yes, while the Democrats were busy killing each version of a public option, the majority of the American people supported the creation of a public option (pdf).

And, now that the Democrats have failed to create a public option, a Research 2000 poll conducted between December 16 and 17 shows that 59% of all Americans and 88% of Democrats still support a public option, compared to 33% of all Americans and 37% of Democrats who support what the congressional Democrats and the White House are currently proposing and saying so forcefully is the best thing for the American people (though it most definitely is not).

And the American people are supposed to be happy that the Democrats want to give the private insurers millions of new customers in exchange for no real competition and difficult-to-enforce regulations? I don’t think so.

Well, the American people are not happy. According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted between Dec 11-13, President Obama’s approval rating fell to 49%. And, according to the results of a CNN/Opinion Research Corp survey released on Dec 10 (pdf), 43% of Americans think that congressional Democrats can do a better job on health care reform, compared to 40% who think that Republicans can do a better job.

Now that’s insane!

And the Democrats are entirely to blame for it because they failed to fight hard enough for real reform and because they failed to deliver on the change we were told to believe in.

So, leading up to the midterm elections, we have on the one hand a gaggle of failed Democratic incumbents hoping to fool former supporters (the ones who voted for them in 2006 and 2008) into thinking that the fight is really between Democrats and Republicans, and that, despite Democrats’ best efforts, Republicans and teabaggers are the ones who ruined health care reform. We get obnoxious emails all the time from Obama, the DCCC and the DSCC telling us that Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck must be stopped and that teabaggers are our biggest problem.

Joke.

On the other hand, we have people like habmed laying the groundwork to blame Jane Hamsher and people like me, one of her “barking-mad,” “deluded progressive supporters,” when the Democrats lose seats next year.

It is very likely that the Democrats will lose a lot of seats next year, and it’s also looking increasingly likely that Obama will lose in 2012.

But the fault for those losses will be entirely theirs for having failed so miserably to lead and for failing to fight for what’s right.

Look, if blaming incompetent, though well-intentioned Democrats seems too harsh for you, habmed, there are real assholes among the Democratic Party for you to hate with the intensity of a thousand suns.

The mainstream media insists on using the term “moderate” Democrats to describe them.

They are House DINOs like Mike Ross (AR04), Melissa Bean (IL08), Jim Cooper (TN05) and Anna Eshoo (CA14), and Senate DINOs like Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Joe Lieberman (CT).

They’re not “moderate” Democrats.

They’re not Democrats at all.

Call them corporatist Democrats. Or even Plutocrats. But not “moderate” Democrats.

And, if you really do want to save the Democratic Party in 2012, habmed, you would be shouting at these corporatist Democrats and everyone who enables them and you would be blaming them for all the House and Senate seats that they’ve decided to throw away in the 2010 midterm elections.

If you voted last year for Democrats thinking that they would replace Bush’s massive bailout to the financial services industry with a massive bailout to the health insurance industry, then you got what you voted for. Have a nice day.

If you voted last year for Democrats thinking that they would use efforts to reform health care as an opportunity to do more to undermine a woman’s right to choose in a matter of conscience than the Republicans have done to that right in decades, then you got what you voted for. Have a nice day.

But you should know that millions of Americans voted for Democrats last year thinking that they were voting for change. They were told that we can have change. They were told to hope for change. They were told to believe in change.

And if you, habmed, believe that those millions of Americans who voted for change last year will be voting for Democrats next year, you’re insane.

Most likely, they won’t bother to vote next year at all.

If you’re unhappy about that unfortunate truth, take it up with Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Now, if you still believe that all Americans should have the widest array of health insurance options possible, including a public option, and that Americans should have a better field of candidates to choose from next year than they had last year, then please help us keep our campaign going.

Blue America / FDL Action

Howard Dean, A Leader We Can Believe In

12:28 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Leadership We Can Believe In

Here’s the situation:

The best-intentioned leaders of health care reform have now joined forces with those whose intentions have been questionable at best. Members from both groups are now on the same page, pushing the latest bullshit compromise-that-isn’t-compromise-at-all health care bill, which will do little-to-nothing to create real competition or reduce the costs of health care for the American people.

Yes, both the best-intentioned leaders of health care reform and those whose intentions have been questionable have come together to declare in one voice that the one who’s doing the most to block what they call “health care reform” (though it is not) is…

wait for it…

Governor Howard Dean.

Laughable? Sure is. But it’s true nonetheless.

Governor Dean has argued that too many lines have been crossed, that what the Democrats are standing for is no longer reform at all, and that the bill currently being proposed in the Senate should be killed so that what little that’s good in it can be passed through budget reconciliation.

Among those whose intentions were good is Senator Jay Rockefeller, who has forcefully come out against Dean, calling him “irresponsible.”

Among those whose intentions have been questionable, the Obama administration’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, has forcefully come out against Dean, calling him “irrational.”

(Why these people didn’t come out forcefully against Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) – i.e., why they didn’t call him “irresponsible” and “irrational” back when they should have stopped him from wrecking health care reform – is a question that needs to be set aside for now.)

Senator Rockefeller, Howard Dean isn’t irresponsible.

Robert Gibbs, Howard Dean isn’t irrational.

And we all know that Howard Dean isn’t irrelevant, either.

All the compromises are gone. Health care reform was allowed to slip away in stages (the robust public option: gone; the strong public option: gone; the weak public option with an opt-out for states: gone).

Even the consolation prize was thrown out with the trash (the weak Medicare buy-in: gone).

What we’re left with is regulation of the insurance industry, achieved at the price of taxpayers having to pay off the insurance companies.

Yes, taxpayers (you) will help reduce the costs of health care for families (you), as little-to-nothing is done to bring down costs for the American people (you).

Nate Silver and Bob Cesca – among others – praise the Senate’s final crappy solution because of all the subsidies being offered to families (you), as if those subsidies aren’t being paid by the taxpayers (you).

Click the image to see Nate Silver’s Analysis

Congratulations, American people! You’re bailing out an industry that has done nothing but profit off you as it has found ways to cut you off when you get sick and could care less about whether or not you die (pdf).

And you’re being forced to do it, as purchasing the products of private insurance companies – to the great joy of insurance company executives – will now be mandated by this health care “reform.”

As Howard Dean has said: the bill now represents “a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG.”

So, let’s return to asking why people like Senator Rockefeller and the White House are now calling Howard Dean “irresponsible” and “irrational.”

In fairness to Senator Rockefeller, he most likely is supporting this joke – dubbed LieberCare – for the same reason he supported the creation of a public option: he believes that there is a health care crisis and that people need help.

Firedoglake: It’s LieberCare!

But for him to say that “[Howard Dean] should know better” and that “[Howard Dean] should be ashamed of himself” is laughable.

Senator Rockefeller, you were a leading advocate for real health care reform who A) had a majority of Senators supporting the creation of a public option, B) had a bill that passed in the House of Representatives that included a public option, C) had the majority of the American people supporting a public option (pdf), D) had the President of the United States making public statements supporting a public option.

And still you failed to get a public option.

You, Senator Rockefeller, should have known better. You should have fough harder. You should have fought more effectively.

And you should have won.

Now, you should be ashamed of yourself.

So we have Rockefeller and the White House on the same side, attacking Howard Dean, trying to protect a piece of shit bill that can only be laughingly called “reform.”

And, of course, there’s another big reason why everyone with a “D” after his or her name is now defending this joke of a reform bill so forcefully: they’re incumbents, and incumbents must protect themselves for election years ’10 and ’12.

I’d say that Progressives must now stand up against their failed leadership, but the truth is that all Americans who want real health care reform must now stand up against their failed leadership and embrace Howard Dean’s solution: reconciliation.

By the way, it’s not too soon to start supporting Governor Dean for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party for 2012.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

John Kerry Fears People Who Hang Tea Bags from Their Rearview Mirrors

8:40 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

The Failed President and the Failed Senators Announce a “Win”

Today, standing alongside the failed Senate Democratic Majority Leader and other failed Senate Democrats, President Obama acknowledged that we have big problems in our health care system and that we have to fix them. Then he started a new pr campaign to sell as the solution to our problems a bill that includes no real reform and that won’t fix the problems.

President Obama declared, “Now that the legislation has gone from watered down reform to no reform at all, let’s get this done!

Audacious. Hopeful. Indeed.

While ignoring the fact that there were bills in the House and Senate that would have done so much more at a much lower cost, the president told us that they have to pass this bill, or the crisis will get worse. In essence, we’re being asked to forget the fact that this bill is far inferior to all previous proposals, which in themselves were already full of concessions made by Progressives so that we can get some level of reform.

But now that there’s nothing of real reform left to concede to so-called moderate Democrats, the President wants everyone to know that he’s fired up and ready to go.

And rather than oppose this bill as the garbage that it is, a bill that no longer even contains a scrap of what can be called real reform, Senate Democrats have gone into full sales mode to push it on the American people as if it were reform, though it is not.

On MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, for example, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) twisted logic left, right, and backwards in an effort to sell this piece of shit to the American people.

“If this bill fails,” he said, it’ll prove to future generations that the insurance lobbyists are too strong and that it’s too difficult to reform the system.

No.

The bill has failed already, senator. The moment you agreed to stop fighting for real health care reform, it failed.

And the only lesson to be learned from your failure – a lesson that needs to be learned as soon as possible – is that Americans cannot trust Democrats just because they make promises that sound better than the other guys’ promises.

But the most shameless act of the day was Senator John Kerry (D-MA) sending out yet another obnoxious Democratic Party approved email, this one on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to warn us all about the insidious threat to our way of life posed by people who hang tea bags from their rearview mirrors.

4188911110_fa14b3a997.jpg

Yes, on the same day that President Obama stood alongside a handful of failed Senate Democrats to announce that they’re too incompetent to advance real health care reform and that the country will just have to accept the shit that they’re going to pass and call health care reform instead (though it could potentially make the problems in our health care system worse), Senator Kerry wants you to know what’s really at stake in the 2010 midterm elections.

Teabag

Kerry thinks you’re stupid enough to believe that Senate Democrats who can’t lead – despite having a supermajority, thanks to voters across the country who believed their promises and who forked over money to them so that they could have a supermajority – aren’t to blame for failing to advance real reform.

No. GOP obstructionism is to blame, Kerry insists. And he wants you to believe that senators inspired by Sarah Palin and the tea party crowd are the real threat.

Kerry insists: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS SITUATION:

“In case you doubt the seriousness of this situation, here are a couple of examples:

• Republican Senate candidates, including Mark Kirk of Illinois, are actively seeking Sarah Palin’s endorsement and they are disavowing their own past positions, contorting themselves to appeal to the new Sarah Palin Republicans. They know that if they receive her blessing, the money will follow.

• The leading GOP Senate candidate in Connecticut, Rob Simmons, has been running around the state with a tea bag hanging from his rearview mirror, and he carries a copy of the United States Constitution with a tea bag attached. Such tactics might seem silly. But they’re working.”

Senate Democrats aren’t only incompetent; they’re afraid of a GOP Senate candidate who hangs a tea bag from his rearview mirror.

And they think that we should be afraid of such moronic nonsense, too.

Seriously?

On the same day that Obama and Senate Democrats announced that they’ve failed to reform health care, Kerry wants us to be worrying about people who hang tea bags from their rearview mirrors?

And don’t support more Progressive Democratic Senate candidates, Kerry says.

Instead:

“Donate to the DSCC. Every dollar you give will help build the grassroots organizations we need to support our incumbents, challenge ridiculous attacks and get each and every Democrat to the polls. It’s the kind of effort we need to keep America moving in the right direction.”

Kerry Signature

What can I say? If you’re afraid of people who hang tea bags on their rearview mirrors, then by all means whip out your checkbooks and donate to the DSCC.

John Kerry and his fellow incumbent Democrats have the right stuff to save you from tea bags that hang from rearview mirrors.

But if you think that achieving real health care reform is more important, then please take a look at Blue America!

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

Behind Closed Doors, Is Joe Winning or Losing?

11:21 am in Uncategorized by Knoxville

The future of the latest health care deal in the Senate all comes down to whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets a good CBO score to showcase at the press conference.

As Sam Stein at HuffPost put it in Senate Democrats Consider Nightmare Scenario On Health Care (Dec 13, 2009):

"There is, currently, a nightmare scenario afflicting Democrats on Capitol Hill with regards to health care reform. And it goes like this: Sometime early next week, leadership gets word from the Congressional Budget Office on their latest outline of reform. The legislative language on which they’ve settled — the one with the clearest promise yet of getting the votes needed to cut off a Republican filibuster — has actually scored quite poorly, saving less money over time and covering fewer people than earlier versions of the bill."

Indeed.

It would appear that the revelations about massive loopholes inserted into this latest Senate deal (loopholes that seriously undermine reform in order to keep costs low), which came out last Thursday and were discussed all day Friday, triggered the first panic.

And Senator Joe Lieberman pushed back on CBS’s Face the Nation last Sunday, threatening now to vote against cloture even for the weak Medicare buy-in.

Yesterday, pressure mounted on Reid from both sides: one side wishes to kill this latest deal because it costs too much for the far too little good that it does; the other, which includes the White House, wishes move forward with anything that they can call health care reform, though it is not health care reform at all.

So, it’s now clearly on Reid.

Jon Walker noted on Dec 13 that up to now there have been nearly a dozen times that “Liberals in Congress create a ‘compromise,’ [that] their supposedly left-wing media apologists rush to say how great it is, and [that] the conservative Democrats move the football again.” Jon points out that Obama and Reid will do anything for a PR victory, no matter how fake.

But this time is different.

Not even an army of supposedly left-wing media apologists can convince the American people that there’s anything great to be found in the latest Senate farce.

Not this time.

The line is draw so starkly that even the casual observer can see it.

The American people clearly see that what is currently being proposed – to strip out the Medicare buy-in while leaving most of the big gifts to the insurance companies in – is bullshit.

On health care reform, there’re no positions in the middle any more. The final scrap that would have allowed Obama and the House and Senate Democrats to pretend that they’ve achieved health care reform is gone.

Now Reid must decide whether he stands with the American people, or against them.

And the more Lieberman pushes back, the more it appears that Reid has received the CBO score and that what it reveals is not good.

The more Lieberman pushes back, the more it looks like there might yet be a chance that Reid will return to his original plan announced in late October, which at least had a weak public option and received a decent score from the CBO.

The American people are watching and waiting to see what Reid does.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

Reconciliation = Majority Rule

6:25 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Will Reid Lead?

Earlier today, I wrote Thank You, Sen Joe Lieberman (I-CT), For Being Arrogant Beyond all Bounds, in which I argued in part that Joe has done Progressives a big favor.

There’s nothing quite like having your opponents reach way too far to help make your point for you.

I argued that, in Lieberman’s infinite arrogance, he put the White House and Reid in the perfect position to either stand with the American people, or against them.

On health care reform, there’re no bullshit positions in the middle any more. The final scrap that would have allowed Obama and the House and Senate Democrats to pretend that they’ve achieved health care reform is gone.

Now Reid has to show whether he’s with the American people, or against them.

And Progressives need to make sure that his choice is clear.

Reid either stands with the American people, or he stands against them.

I would like to call attention to Jane Hamsher’s FDL Action petition to Reid, which she announced on Nov 23, 2009, and point out that Reid can still choose to stand with the American people.

Sign the petition to tell Reid that he must use reconciliation so that the majority of senators can pass real health care reform.

reconciliation=majority rule

Petition to Harry Reid:

"The power to pass a public option is yours alone. Don’t let corrupt Democratic senators owned by insurance industry lobbyists kill the public option and majority rule. Get them in line, or use reconciliation to pass a public option with a majority vote."

As the majority leader of the Senate, the power to pass a public option is squarely in Harry Reid’s hands. Fifty-one Senators have said they would vote for a bill with a public option — no opt-outs, no triggers. That’s a majority. Will Reid let three or four corrupt Senators owned by the insurance industry hold the public option hostage? Or will he use the reconciliation process to allow a simple majority vote on a public option?

Reid still can lead. He can still show Americans that he’s on their side.

Click here to sign the petition!

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]

Thank You, Sen Joe Lieberman (I-CT), For Being Arrogant Beyond all Bounds

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by Knoxville

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

Until now, it wasn’t clear to me how Progressives could make the most convincing case that the American people would, in fact, be getting royally screwed by the health care deal that was embraced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last week.

But Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has saved the day.

Yesterday, he announced on CBS’s Face the Nation that he’s not going to stop at ruining the final scrap that would have allowed Obama and the House and Senate Democrats to pretend that they’ve achieved health care reform.

Indeed, now he says that he’s not even happy with the weak Medicare expansion, a buy-in for a small number of people 55-64.

No.

This deal, which gave a little cover to Democrats who were willing to abandon the creation of a public health insurance option in order to get anything that they could call “health care reform” – though all it would have done was give a gift to the executives of the private insurance companies far bigger than anything should have ever hoped for – still isn’t enough to make Joe happy.

No, sir. Joe’s got issues:

"On part of it – the so-called Medicare buy-in – the opposition to it has been growing as the week has gone on. Though I don’t know exactly what’s in it, from what I hear I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did."

And so I ask you to join me in thanking him.

Why?

Let’s thank him because he’s overplayed his hand.

Let’s thank him because he’s forced Obama and officials at the White House to reveal that they don’t want real reform either, and because, now that officials in the White House are asking Reid to cut yet another deal with him to toss out the already ridiculously weak deal to expand Medicare to a few more people, the evidence that Obama doesn’t want real health care reform is now beyond all doubt, even for Americans who wanted to believe that Obama was all about change.

Let’s thank him because he’s finally put Reid in a position in which the only way for him to win is to stand up to Lieberman and his ilk; because, if Reid gives in this time, his failure as Majority Leader will be recognized by all Americans and will be clear for all to see, far beyond the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

Now, Reid has to act like a leader, or his failure will become an indisputable fact.

Reid has to get the Senate’s Democratic Caucus in line on a procedural vote or he has to go to reconciliation to pass real reform, or his failure will become an indisputable fact.

It’s all clearly on Reid now.

And Reid has to take a stand that will be unmistakable.

Either he’s with the American people, or he’s against them.

On health care reform, there’re no bullshit positions in the middle any more.

Lieberman has positioned Obama and Reid perfectly.

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, Sen. Reid tasked ten Democratic members of the United States Senate to kill a public option, which – while he sat in a corner, curled up, shaking and hugging his knees – they did, scuttling the last vestige of real health care reform.

And even after an offensive email from Obama trying to use the Senate’s deal to fundraise, which disgusted Markos at Daily Kos, and even after it was becoming clear that games were being played to bring down costs so that Reid could congratulate his fellow Senate Democrats when he announces that the CBO score shows that the latest Senate proposal costs under $900 billion over the next ten years, still it was not clear how Progressives could make the case that the American people are getting screwed.

Now, let’s all send Joe our sincerest thanks.

True, Lieberman led a handful of Senate Democrats in joining Republicans to block an up-or-down vote on real health care reform, which at a minimum must include some kind of option for health care coverage that gives Americans a choice other than the ‘products’ of private insurers looking to rake in profits.

We can’t thank him for that.

But for his infinite arrogance, for his having put the White House and Reid in the perfect position to either stand with us, the American people, or against us, let’s be sure to thank him.

There’re no bullshit positions in the middle any more.

So, thanks, Joe.

You’re a dick, but at least you’re a dick who just doesn’t know when to stop.

Send Joe a ‘thank you’ note via the contact page at his website here.

[Originally posted at Circleparkforum.]