Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Blue Dogs and Republicans (on behalf of the industries that own them) must get what they want "

Glenn Greenwald on the White House v Progressives on the 'public option'. Today's 'must read'. Links at site.

Over the past decade, the Democratic Party has specialized in offering up one excuse after the next for its collective failures. During the early Bush years, the excuse was that they endorsed Bush policies because his popularity and post-9/11 hysteria made it politically unwise to oppose him. In later Bush years when his popularity plummeted, the excuse was that Democrats were in the minority and could do nothing. After 2006 when they won a Congressional majority, the excuse was that Bush still controlled the White House and had veto power. After 2008 when a Democrat won the White House, the excuse was that Republicans could filibuster.

Now that they have a filibuster-proof majority, a huge margin in the House and the White House, the excuses continue unabated, as Democrats are now on the verge of jettisoning one of the most significant attractions for progressives to the Obama campaign -- active government involvement in the health insurance market. [...]

When progressives refuse to toe the White House line, they get threatened. Contrast that with what the White House does with Blue Dogs and "centrists" who are allegedly uncooperative on health care -- they protect them:

The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill. But -- given the impossibility of achieving that goal -- isn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along.

The Washington Post today quotes an "anonymous White House official" excoriating what he condescendingly calls "the left of the left" for petulantly demanding a "public option." That article notes that the Obama White House is surprised by the intensity of progressives' insistence that the bill include a "public option," and who can blame them for being surprised? Ordinarily, progressives are told that they cannot have what they want because Blue Dogs and Republicans (on behalf of the industries that own them) must get what they want, and progressives meekly accept that because it's "better than nothing" (don't let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good, they are lectured). More than anything else, it's vital that this dynamic change. Such a change -- a shift in Beltway power dynamics -- would be far more consequential even than the specific health care policy issues at stake in this debate.

He says some nice things about Jane Hamsher's efforts to goad Progressives into action on this.

The shorter version is all about 2010 and getting industry support by giving them what they want and fuck real Democrats like always. Business as usual. Yeesh. Go read.


Go read Our Gal Jane on this. Today's second 'must read', dovetails well with Greenwald.

We started this whip count effort on June 23 because it became clear that in the course of making their deals with stakeholders, the Baucus Caucus (who were negotiating on behalf of the White House, with the participation of the White House) had very likely already dealt the public plan away.

The goal of keeping stakeholders at the table was threefold:

1. Keep them from advertising against the White House plan
2. Keep them from torpedoing vulnerable Democrats in 2010 so there isn't a repeat of 1994
3. Keep their money out of GOP coffers

You can see the fingerprints in the deals that they made: the $150 million PhRMA was spending on ads for health care reform, the $2.5 million they spent helping vulnerable freshmen, and the total fury that Boehner has unleashed on PhRMA and other stakeholders for making deals with the White House.

People make a mistake when they think the battle for health care reform is about ideology, because it's not. It's about who controls K Street and the cash that flows from it, which could fund a 2010 GOP resurgenece -- or not.

A word about Jane - we've been big fans of hers since she started Firedoglake several years ago. Right in amongst being a Liberal firebrand, she took time out to survive breast cancer and barely missed a step. She's an American hero.

Update II:

Jane again:

Matt Taibbi says that Rahm Emanuel's health care debacle could be to the Obama administration what the Iraq war was to George Bush.

He's right.

Oh fucking swell.

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