Sequestered in Memphis

Greg Sargent on the Centrist Death Cult and how it enables Republicans:

The GOP’s explicit position is that no compromise solution of any kind is acceptable — this must be resolved only with 100% of the concessions being made by Democrats — which means any compromise Dems put forth is by definition a nonstarter at the outset.

Analysts reluctant to embrace this conclusion — an affliction I’ve called the “centrist dodge” — have adopted several techniques. One is to pretend Dems haven’t offered any compromise solution, when in fact they have. A second is to argue that, okay, Dems have offered a compromise while Republicans haven’t, but Dems haven’t gone far enough towards the middle ground, so both sides are still to blame for the impasse. (The problem with this dodge is that it fails to acknowledge that Republicans themselves have openly stated that there is no distance to which Dems could go to win GOP cooperation, short of giving them everything they want.)

We’re now seeing a third technique appear: Acknowledge that Republicans are the uncompromising party, but assert that it’s ultimately on the President to figure out a way to either force Republicans to drop their intransigence or to otherwise “lead” them out if it.

I’ve never understood why anyone thinks presidents have the magical ability to get Congress to pass stuff that Congress doesn’t want to pass. It’s not just Obama who isn’t magical; Bush couldn’t get immigration reform or Social Security privatization through.

I remember when it was the firebaggers who wanted Obama to be more magically powerful about health care reform. Jim Newell summed it up well:

I’m sure if Obama just had the bill on his desk and gave it to Congress and told them to pass the damned thing, Congress wouldn’t have objected or tried to change anything, and the Senate would’ve passed it all 100-0 through reconciliation—even if they didn’t need reconciliation. This is what the spineful George W. Bush would have done.

Now, it’s the Villagers who want it, and comparison is of course, Reagan and Tip.

But it doesn’t matter how much Ron Fournier and David Brooks blame the sequester on Obama. If the levee breaks, and the cuts comes, local media will give the cuts plenty of coverage, and Republicans will take a political hit.

I sincerely hope sequestration can be avoided. I think it would be terrible for the economy. Like Tim F, I have friends whose scientific careers would be adversely affected.

But if it comes, Bobo and Fournier and Woodward won’t be able to save Republicans’ sorry asses.

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110 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:

    “But if it comes, Bobo and Fournier and Woodward won’t be able to save Republicans’ sorry asses.”

    It doesn’t matter to them, since their own sorry asses won’t be in any sort of a sling at all.

    They’ll just “soldier-on,” covering for whatever remains of the Republican Party and Conservative movement.

    To do otherwise, would be to admit that they were wrong.

    And NO punTWIT ever acknowledges being wrong!

    And especially not those who have been wrong for a decade, or several decades – or, their whole lives, for that matter!
    Like:
    George Will.
    Bill Kristol.
    Charles Krauthammer.
    David Brooks.
    Tom Friedman.
    Etc, etc, etc,…

  2. 2
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Heard Orange Julius on the radio device yesterday saying that the Democrats in the Senate were going to have to get it done as it wasn’t the responsibility of the House.

    I take this as a tacit admission on his part that the House GOP has picked this hill to die on, and that he can’t get the votes.

    That the media merely reported him saying this without even a cursory “what the fuck?” is all the proof one would ever need that they’re in league with the GOP to destroy the nation.

  3. 3
    Bobby Thomson says:

    I find your faith in the rationality of the American voter charming.

    It’s a long time until the next election. Plenty of time for people to forget who bears fault for the next recession. To the extent they ever really knew, which is an awfully big if.

  4. 4
    Liza says:

    I have made a conscious effort not to pay any attention to the sequester “negotiation”, but I can always get behind Hold Steady references.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjDI1oouS8w

  5. 5
    MattF says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘centrist’ commentariat are mostly trolls and partisan hacks. Too bad, but the world is what it is.

  6. 6
    Ed in NJ says:

    The Hold Steady reference FTW!

    Hope you are holding onto How a Resurrection Really Feels for a very special occasion.

  7. 7
    Bruce S says:

    I am totally mystified by President Obama’s inability to lead intransigent and crazy people who hate him to do what aggressively know-nothing Beltway scribes think is best for the peasants.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The Hold Steady. That’s a titling first, isn’t it?

    I’ve never understood why anyone thinks presidents have the magical ability to get Congress to pass stuff that Congress doesn’t want to pass.

    This belief really is a “both sides do it” thing. I am starting to think that it may be due to the demise of 8th grade Civics.

  9. 9
    WereBear says:

    What Republicans say means nothing; we all know that.

    What matters is if we can convince them that they will take the blame.

    But I honestly don’t know if that’s possible, because we are talking about people who were dead-certain it would be President Romney.

  10. 10
    Chris says:

    The problem with this dodge is that it fails to acknowledge that Republicans themselves have openly stated that there is no distance to which Dems could go to win GOP cooperation, short of giving them everything they want

    And even that is fairly optimistic, as the last few years incline me to believe that even if President Obama gave them EVERYTHING they wanted, they would simply change the goalposts and then whine that he didn’t give them what they REALLY wanted.

  11. 11
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Drone strikes on economic terrorists.

    Clearly, that’s the kind of “leadership” the GOP is looking for.

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ed in NJ: “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” could also come in handy.

  13. 13
    Cacti says:

    There’s a reason that the POTUS has largely bypassed the Villagers in making his case against the sequester.

    And oh how they hate him for it.

  14. 14
    Cacti says:

    @Chris:

    And even that is fairly optimistic, as the last few years incline me to believe that even if President Obama gave them EVERYTHING they wanted, they would simply change the goalposts and then whine that he didn’t give them what they REALLY wanted.

    The Teapublicans don’t disagree philosophically with the POTUS, so much as they are angry at him for existing.

  15. 15
    burnspbesq says:

    OT news flash: Supreme Court opinion is out in Clapper v. Amnesty International, the challenge to the FISA Amendments Act provisions on warrantless wire taps. 5-4, merits not reached because plaintiffs don’t have standing. Alito writes the opinion.

    Probably the correct application of standing principles, but a disappointment nevertheless.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Suffern ACE says:

    Until the Democrats offer up a compromise that is 100% cuts to medicare and food stamps and an increase in the military budget to 50% of GDP, it pretty much is a given that the village people will speak about Democratic intransigence.

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    MSNBC Democrat and embittered PUMA Ed Rendell shilling for “significant cuts” in “entitlements”. Yup, there it is: “If the President leads….”

  19. 19
    Chris says:

    @Cacti:

    At him, and at all of us more generally. Even a resignation by Obama wouldn’t do much to resolve their anger. It’s the fact that they’re forced to tolerate the existence of half a country’s worth (and climbing) of people who aren’t like them that drives them nuts.

  20. 20
    burnspbesq says:

    Oopsie: in comment 14 I erroneously referred to “warrantless” electronic surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act. The expanded surveillance authority under the FISA Amendments Act still requires FISC approval. What changed was the need to show probable cause that the target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.

  21. 21
    El Tiburon says:

    What a complete waste of time for Obama to use his Bully Pulpit and nation-wide blitzkrieg to push his gun control proposals. Doesn’t he realize it is a non-starter waste-of-time-stupid-fucking-firebaggers.

    You know, whenever I see such a lazy term like “firebagger” it makes me vomit a little bit.

    Why is it okay for Obama to stand on the mountaintop and push for gun-violence legislation but not for better healthcare that would save even more lives?

    Also Greenwald. Suck it.

  22. 22
    LeRoy Matthews says:

    Study my Letter on Diana@Philosophyinaction.com. (Search: Crazy Inbox)

    The so-called “federal government” is not only BANKRUPT, It’s Head- Over- Heels in Debt, & Operating Way In The Red, & It Has A Huge,& Increasing, Budget Deficit. There’s virtually zero $ for anything whatsoever.

  23. 23
    taylormattd says:

    David Brooks, or Jane Hamsher?:

    BULLYPULPIT BULLYPULPIT BULLYPULPIT

  24. 24
    Cassidy says:

    Heh…just had a brief from the union on sequestration. I joined. I’m not hopeful.

  25. 25
    dedc79 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Also, Cattle and the Creeping Things, Banging Camp, Chillout Tent, You Can Make Him Like You, Stuck Between Stations.

    Lots of potential….

  26. 26
    John S. says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I vomit a little bit when I see a term like “bully pulpit” used lazily.

  27. 27
    JPL says:

    @burnspbesq: According to the five conservatives, standing only matters when they decide it does.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dedc79: The Clash and EC references are really in my wheel house, but it is good to have references that date from this century as well.

  29. 29
    Joe Buck says:

    Yes, the president doesn’t have magical powers, but in 2009 the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate. Had Obama been less passive, and had he and Reid managed to avoid giving Baucus the lead role in structuring the bill, we could have had a public option. We were very close to getting it, and Obama made it clear that he didn’t care about it.

    I parted ways with the “firebaggers” after they decided that without the public option they opposed the bill (better something than nothing in my view), but I loathe insurance companies with a passion (they found a way to avoid paying for my brother’s care and for my wife’s father’s death, requiring my proud father to have to resort to Medicaid after savings were exhausted) and am very unhappy that we didn’t get a way for the general public to get coverage without dealing with them.

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: I have a feeling there will be a union rep in my weekly meeting tomorrow. Something tells me this ain’t gonna be fun.

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:

    @John S.:

    The shark jumped the shark some time ago.

  32. 32
    👽 Martin says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Why is it okay for Obama to stand on the mountaintop and push for gun-violence legislation but not for better healthcare that would save even more lives?

    Seriously? Are you that out of touch with where political power comes from?

    Obama could not be making this push if not for Newtown. Further, if the timing of Newtown had been much different he could not be making this push. Almost all legislative pushes have their window of opportunity, and we’re in it for gun violence. We’re also in it for immigration reform because Republicans have at least acknowledged that they lost the last election in part due to it and are likely to lose the next one without it. So that window is also open.

    The window for healthcare never opened. It was a straight up grind. It’s amazing it even got as far as it did since it wasn’t something the public was looking at. Major policy initiatives do not happen just because a handful of activists want it to happen. If you want to know why the firebagger and moonbeam and shit get applied – its a reflection of the complete political ignorance with which those people seem to operate under.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @El Tiburon: @Joe Buck: Yippee, let’s fight the ACA battle again. Let us say for the sake of argument that you are correct and that Obama could have gotten more in the healthcare fight if he had pushed harder and more publicly, would not the fact that he is doing that now be an indication that he had learned from the previous situation?

    WRT gun legislation, I think the reason the president is able to be pushing so hard and publicly is that he already has the public behind him and he is acting as their voice. This was not the case with the public option or medicare for all (my preferred solution).

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    @👽 Martin: His comment wasn’t too horrible until the gratuitous Greenwald. Then I really stopped taking him seriously.

  35. 35
    burnspbesq says:

    @Joe Buck:

    but in 2009 the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate.

    I have neither the time nor the energy to beat this dead horse again,but it bears remembering that one of those 60 “Democrats” to which you refer was Joe Lieberman. Having 60 Democrats was not the same thing as having 60 Democratic votes, and there were never 60 votes for a public option.

  36. 36
    👽 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Probably the correct application of standing principles, but a disappointment nevertheless.

    Opening yet another season in hoping SCOTUS solves the problems that Congress are supposed to solve. Episode 8 gazillion.

  37. 37
    Bulworth says:

    The Media Villagers have already started carrying the GOP’s water on this: claiming that the sequester was “Obama’s idea”, conviently forgetting the GOP teabag party Debt Ceiling hostage taking of 2011, threatening default unless deep and long lasting budget cuts were made. The result was an agreement to let a Super Committe of congresspeople put a package together and failing that, to allow the sequester to cut the discretionary budget across the board. The Super Committee of course failed and now we face the sequester. That the media villagers have developed amnesia on how this all got started with the debt ceiling default crisis speaks volumes of how they will treat any negative ramifications from the sequester, especially for defense workers/contractors.

  38. 38
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    In America you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh, I bet the righties are going to have a Category-5 fuckfit about that.

    It’s true, though. It’s our most cherished right and we exercise it all the time.

  39. 39
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Joe Buck: Yes, the president doesn’t have magical powers, but in 2009 the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate.

    For about six months, from Al Franken’s seating in July ’09, until Scott Brown was sworn in in February 2010. One of those Democrats was Joe Lieberman. Another was Blanche Lincoln. I could do this with at least a dozen other names. And if you think Reid and Obama could have “managed to avoid” Max Baucus being chair of the finance committee, you really have no idea how the Senate works.

  40. 40
    kindness says:

    I’m of the opinion that sequestration will happen and that it will benefit the sane among us. Why? Well because when it goes down, Americans are going to see their government’s services go down. Americans are used to demanding money be cut but aren’t used to actually living in that reality. Being forced to see what actually happens will be an eye opener for many. For those teahaddists that require actual assistance in governmental services, they may very well change their minds as to who is fighting for them.

    And the military will take a small hit. Honestly, I think this is the only road where defense gets any cuts at all.

    The cuts will suck and they will hurt. But I think it will help progressives more in the long run.

  41. 41
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Actually, though, we have recent history as a guide. Gingrich and the Republicans were willing to shut down the government in order to get Clinton to flinch, and yet, when it happened, the Republicans took the brunt of the blame. Yet it still didn’t change the fact that Democrats are the “spenders that run up the government debt.” It’s one thing when people talk about hating government, it’s totally something else when they don’t get their government services and checks.

  42. 42
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: Yeah. It ain’t sounding pretty. Good luck. I’ll be happy to not be laid off.

  43. 43
    burnspbesq says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Or doesn’t solve them, as the case may be. I am sympathetic to the argument that when Congress does stupid shit, the correct answer is for Congress to undo it (in this case, by repealing the FISA Amendments Act at the same time it repeals the Patriot Act), rather than relying on the judiciary to be the cleaner.

    That’ll happen at about the same time as my kitteh Laettner starts shitting chocolate truffles.

  44. 44
    👽 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq: Among the largest industries in Connecticut and Nebraska are insurance. Those two Senators were always going to be near impossible for a public option. Like trying to get support for a carbon tax out of West Virginia or defense cuts out of Virginia or cuts to corn subsidies out of Iowa.

  45. 45
    Mike E says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: This John Kerry fellow–I’m beginning to like the cut of his jib.

  46. 46
    Hill Dweller says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I have neither the time nor the energy to beat this dead horse again,but it bears remembering that one of those 60 “Democrats” to which you refer was Joe Lieberman. Having 60 Democrats was not the same thing as having 60 Democratic votes, and there were never 60 votes for a public option.

    In addition to everything you’ve said, the Dems only had 60 members in their caucus for 72 days in 2009.

    People forget that Franken was delayed for months from joining the Senate. Both Byrd and Kennedy spent significant time away from the Senate due to health issues.

    All that said, the root of the problem was Republicans shattering filibuster record during Obama’s first two years in office.

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: We’re most likely going to have rolling furloughs since the IRS can’t afford to have everyone out of our office. I’m hoping I get every other Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. If we get the 22 day furlough I might look into that state tax agency job I saw.

    EDIT: Though if they base it off call volume I’ll get Fridays. Which hopefully my parents can just help me out or something.

  48. 48
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): as inept and weak and terrified a leader as Boehner (and I’d add, a not very bright man who genuinely has no grasp of policy or economics), even his outbursts, like today’s “the Senate needs to get off their ass”, don’t have the Macy’s giant balloon of buffoonery quality that Gingrich had and has. In a sit down interview, Boehner can mumble a string of talking points sufficient to get him past Jonathan Karl or Kelly O’Donnell. Gingrich could never resist the opportunity to get windy and ‘professorial’ and petty and nasty all at once.

  49. 49
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @LeRoy Matthews: Do you know where you are?

    Is your scooter all charged up, or do we need to call the cops to help you find your way home?

  50. 50
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I’m of the opinion that sequestration will happen and that it will benefit the sane among us.

    @kindness: I will be 47 years old and without a job by June if it happens and sticks. Please explain how this in any way whatsoever benefits me.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike E: Nice way to start off his first trip overseas in his new job, huh?

  52. 52
    👽 Martin says:

    @Yutsano: But it assumes that the President has the political power to swim against the tide. They don’t. FDR did many things, but his policies had active support from the public. And in spite of that he couldn’t support anti-lynching legislation and stated the following:

    I did not choose the tools with which I must work. Had I been permitted to choose them I would have selected quite different ones. But I’ve got to get legislation passed by Congress to save America. The Southerners… occupy strategic places on most of the Senate and House committees. If I come out for the antilynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can’t take that risk.

    Even FDR didn’t have the capacity to do this. He recognized which levers he could push on and which ones he couldn’t – and he got things done because he didn’t waste time on things he knew he couldn’t achieve. But some people simply refuse to accept this.

  53. 53
    Mike E says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: “Yeah, yeah, we know. Laugh it up, tho the torch/pitchfork thing actually happens where you live.”

  54. 54
    El Tiburon says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I think the reason the president is able to be pushing so hard and publicly is that he already has the public behind him and he is acting as their voice. This was not the case with the public option or medicare for all (my preferred solution).

    I think you are wrong. I think polling would show a majority of Americans did and continue to support some type of public option or single payer.

    And if we have to wait for a Newton-type tragedy to fix our healthcare then we are screwed. Wait, we have Newton type tragedies with our healthcare every single day (if you believe the statistics that show thousands die every single year for lack of good health coverage.)

    And yeah, I will continue to fight the ACA battle over and over again when folks like DougGalt promote such blantant hypocrisy in his posts. And the same for all of you Obama apologists.

    So that I’m clear: Obama can give a heartfelt and sincere, teary-eyed speech on gun legislation and commit to changing the status-quo against an entity once thought to be invinvible: NRA, but he couldn’t muster 1/2 of that for a better healthcare change?

    Also too here’s to hoping Hamsher and Greenwald mate you bastards.

  55. 55
    MikeJ says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    until Scott Brown was sworn in in February 2010.

    Hostile, Mass.

  56. 56
    Chyron HR says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Yes, yes, yes. It’s terrible how those “Obotomized Obots” who “Mindlessly Worship Dear Leader” are so uncivil and dismissive when you true progressives try to engage them in reasonable political discussion.

  57. 57
    👽 Martin says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    One of those Democrats was Joe Lieberman.

    He wasn’t a Democrat. He left the party in 2006. Caucused with them, sure, but not a Democrat.

  58. 58
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @El Tiburon: I think you are wrong. I think polling would show a majority of Americans did and continue to support some type of public option or single payer.

    Yes. Look how opponents of single payer went down in flames in 2010! The American people rose up and demanded a public option!

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @El Tiburon: It’s Newtown. Please. I am not picking at you about the name of the town because we are disagreeing; as a former resident, this has been a pet peeve of mine for over 30 years.

    As I said above, if your interpretation is correct, isn’t the current push a sign that Obama learned from his mistake and thus a good thing? Or are you going to say it is a sign that he really didn’t give a fuck about healthcare from the get-go?

  60. 60
    Turgidson says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Lieberman had to threaten to filibuster his own fucking idea, the Medicare buy-in for people 55-64. That asshole campaigned on the idea as recently as his Connecticut-for-Lieberman ’06 run. And he threatened to filibuster it three years later. Because he felt like grandstanding and being pretend-president for a while. So glad that fucker’s gone. Maybe that’s where McConnell got the idea that filibustering your own bill is totally OK.

  61. 61
    burnspbesq says:

    @JPL:

    According to the five conservatives, standing only matters when they decide it does

    That’s both false and unfair. The Warren and Burger Courts pushed the envelope way too far on standing. Dialing it back is consistent with a proper understanding of the role of the judiciary in our system of government.

  62. 62
    bemused says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Katty Kay did that too. Evidently the austerity in the UK has no impact on her life.

  63. 63
    kindness says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    I will be 47 years old and without a job by June if it happens and sticks. Please explain how this in any way whatsoever benefits me.

    My statement was based on the group progressives, not you as an individual. How ever you as a pointer will obviously be pissed at government shitting on you. Who are you going to blame? That is what I meant.

  64. 64
    PIGL says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: they would be much better justified than the killing of random central asian civilians, or even hardened sabre-toothed central asian terrorists, who pose no significant danger of any kind, except in movies.

    The GOP, otoh, is a present existential threat.

  65. 65
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: I’m about to finish fire school and looking into starting a business as well. This will be inconvenient, but we’ll weather it. There are a lot in my pay grade who cannot. I’ll probably just hit up the labor pool on my furlough day and do some grunt work for minimum wage.

  66. 66
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joe Buck: Don’t think the votes were ever there. Some of the Senators who said they would be for it were lying (IMO).

  67. 67
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    My statement was based on the group progressives, not you as an individual.

    @kindness: I know that. In the quest for great goals, what’s always forgotten is that groups are comprised of individuals. All politics in the end is personal.

    There’s a lot of government employees out there. Don’t pretend that sequestration will be anything but an utter disaster for them. Progressives embracing sequestration won’t shrink the DoD and lead us all to a bright shiny future, progressives embracing sequestration will be a progressive endorsement of almost a million people losing their jobs. I humbly suggest that this is not a good idea for those seeking to further the cause of progressivism, as it will certainly generate some ill-will among those who suddenly find themselves unemployed and unable to find remotely equivalent jobs.

  68. 68
    👽 Martin says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I think polling would show a majority of Americans did and continue to support some type of public option or single payer.

    Sure, but polling showed that there were about 17 things that they wanted ahead of the public option or single payer. Lots of things are popular, but that doesn’t mean the public wants Congress to make them a priority. There was no urgency behind that popularity. And oftentimes the urgency matters more than the popularity. Look at the push from outside groups on gun control now. Almost all of those groups were around 3 months ago, but there was no push then. They’re building momentum – they’re making it harder and harder for Republicans to stand in the way. That never happened with healthcare – the advocacy groups tried, but they never really got that momentum going.

    And if we have to wait for a Newton-type tragedy to fix our healthcare then we are screwed. Wait, we have Newton type tragedies with our healthcare every single day (if you believe the statistics that show thousands die every single year for lack of good health coverage.)

    Newtown resonated because it had pure victims. There was nothing that could have reasonably prevented that short of the proposed policy. Only the government can address this problem. Even the NRA is acknowledging that in their ham-fisted way by calling on government to put guards in schools and treat folks with mental illness like sex offenders.

    That’s simply not true with healthcare. It’s a much more complex scenario where the victims of healthcare almost always have opportunities to make different decisions that would lead to different outcomes. It’s unrealistic that people be able to make so many of those decisions just the right way, but there are very few pure victims in healthcare. And while government will be instrumental in solving this problem, it’s far from clear HOW. It’s a perfectly reasonable argument to say that single payer is the right solution – but at the state level, which is where virtually all health care end-user policy existed prior to Obamacare. Even Medicaid is state-level at the end user. Only Medicare is a pure federal program. The complexities of the problem make it much more difficult to build momentum for a single set of policies. Doesn’t mean it’s not important, but it does mean that the ability of the President to carry it is much less.

  69. 69
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Paul in KY: I agree, I’ve always thought Lincoln, Lieberman and Nelson provided cover for quite a few who didn’t want to poke their heads up. In a slightly different vein, Jim Webb drove me crazy sometimes, but when you consider he was a Republican most of his life, I have to appreciate that he took some of the votes he did. I think his retirement is a loss.

  70. 70
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Don’t think the votes were ever there.

    @Paul in KY: They couldn’t pull more than 45 at my last count, and as you say, some of those had no intention of voting for it in spite of their publicly proclaiming otherwise.

  71. 71
    jeffro says:

    Not even close to sliding that Hold Steady ref through unnoticed! Makes me feel like yinz are my kind of people for sure.

  72. 72
    rikyrah says:

    Shrub lied us into TWO WARS and still couldn’t get Immigration Reform done.

    One party is full of sociopaths that have chosen ECONOMIC TREASON AGAINST THIS COUNTRY.

    the President is treating them better than they deserve. and, if they didn’t have the MSM coddling their asses instead of telling the truth about what they are doing..

    maybe these manufactured crisis would not continue.

  73. 73
    Xenos says:

    @burnspbesq:

    t it bears remembering that one of those 60 “Democrats” to which you refer was Joe Lieberman. Having 60 Democrats was not the same thing as having 60 Democratic votes, and there were never 60 votes for a public option.

    It takes a remarkable amount of bad faith to pretend that a senator from Connecticut would even consider putting insurance companies out of business.

    The debunked arguments keep getting rebunked. I think I am going to have to put all these simple facts on tumbler pages so I can be saved the trouble of typing them out again.

  74. 74
    👽 Martin says:

    @Turgidson: The Medicare buy in is a bit more complex. Under Liebermans proposal, Part C still paid 115%, so it was a further giveaway to the insurance companies – an even better one, in fact, as costs for <65 year olds would be lower but the premiums would be the same.

    One of the harder pulls on Obamacare was the change to only pay 100% for Part C (and still nobody believes me that this bill was all about entitlement spending, and not about expanding access to care), so by 2009, Lieberman's idea no longer worked as he first proposed it. That 15% was enough to turn the industry from it – and while Obama got nearly all of the not-for-profits on board with Obamacare, getting Cigna (Connecticut) and the other for-profits wasn't possible.

    I know El Tiburon won't hear of this, but Obamacare succeeded because instead of battling all 3 legs of the heathcare stool (insurers, providers, and equipment/drug companies), he cut a deal with the last one as they are few in number, got the first one as allies (which consume the smallest chunk of overall healthcare spending), and used those two as leverage to force change in the most expensive portion of the system – the providers. They're 80% of spending, and he got some savings from the last group as well. That meant that the insurers were largely untouched (they'd get massive cost savings in the same way that Medicaid/Medicare would from the changes affecting care providers) but would have to keep rates in check, cover people that were unprofitable and so on. That was acceptable to the not-for-profits because, well, they're not-for-profits.

    Public option and single payer would have resulted in having all three groups lobbying against the plan, rather than one in favor of the plan and one against, and one neutral. It never would have passed. And even in the current state, the requirement for the exchanges are going to eventually force single payer to happen. It'll take a bit longer, but it's going to happen. And it'll probably happen here in CA. And when we've taken 10% of the US population (and 10% of Congressional seats) down that path, it's going to put a lot of pressure on the feds to follow.

  75. 75
    gene108 says:

    @Joe Buck:

    Yes, the president doesn’t have magical powers, but in 2009 the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate.

    Not until September, I believe. They started out with 57 or 58 and picked up one more, when Specter switched parties in the spring and one more, when Franken got seated in July. Then dropped a Senator because Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer and didn’t really get 60 until the fall of 2009, when Kennedy’s replacement was seated.

    Had Obama been less passive, and had he and Reid managed to avoid giving Baucus the lead role in structuring the bill, we could have had a public option.

    See above. TED KENNEDY HAD FUCKING BRAIN CANCER!

    That’s why Baucus was in charge. It would otherwise have been handled by Kennedy and shit would’ve been a lot different.

    We will have no idea of what might’ve been, with regards to healthcare reform, if Kennedy had been healthy.

    Also, too the President can’t dictate to the Senate what Senators are in charge of what assignments. Even Bush, Jr. in all his dictatorial glory couldn’t demand the Senator from one of the New England states, who switched to Independent, in 2001, be stripped of assignments and demoted.

    Just sayin’ there’s a huge hole, with regards to the Senate and HCR that Kennedy’s illness created and we’ll never know what might’ve been.

    I don’t see the point in pinning that on Obama.

    The fact Obama manned up and got the PPACA passed, instead of letting the defeat of 2009 kill HCR needs to be applauded, because we’re close to universal coverage than ever before.

    EDIT:

    We were very close to getting it, and Obama made it clear that he didn’t care about it.

    The only way we’d have gotten a public option is if Baucus had gotten his version of the bill out of committee before the summer recess. He didn’t. He made it clear a public option wasn’t a priority for him.

    Then the right-wingers went to work in August of 2009 and because there was no complete bill, there wasn’t anything Democrats could do to push back.

    I think Obama showed a lot of leadership in pushing for HCR to go ahead, even after the right-wingers went nuts in August and the issue started polling badly, especially with the economy falling off the rails.

    The politically expedient thing to have done would’ve been to delay bringing it up again, like other President’s had done in the past.

  76. 76
    kindness says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: OK. Case in point then…So who are you going to blame? Obama or Republicans?

  77. 77
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Yes, but that was several months closer to the election. And even then, Republicans lost only eight seats in the House and picked up two in the Senate – in a presidential election year.

  78. 78
    👽 Martin says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    I humbly suggest that this is not a good idea for those seeking to further the cause of progressivism, as it will certainly generate some ill-will among those who suddenly find themselves unemployed and unable to find remotely equivalent jobs.

    It’s unavoidable. Not in this specific case, because the cuts are administered stupidly. But one of the universal policy agreements on the left is to cut the defense budget and that is impossible to do without costing jobs – lots of them. The price of a smaller defense budget is a lot of layoffs and higher unemployment. Period. If that is unacceptable, then the calls for defense spending need to end right here and now.

    I take your point, but agreeing to it would be to add Democratic obstruction of fiscal policy on the scale of Republican obstruction. Those job losses are something that we simply have to learn to live with. Now, the smart approach would be to use attrition and such to minimize their impact, but either way that job is going to have to go.

  79. 79
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @burnspbesq:

    there were never 60 50 votes for a public option

    Fixed. Democratic Senators lied about their support when they didn’t think it would go anywhere.

  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Democratic Senators lied about their support when they didn’t think it would go anywhere.

    Some of them were in favor of some Platonic ideal of a public option, but any real world version would have been problematic for some reason.

    Or: What you said.

  81. 81
    Zifnab says:

    Now, it’s the Villagers who want it, and comparison is of course, Reagan and Tip.

    I see this trotted out a lot. But it overlooks several other pairs of great historical compromisers: Clinton and Gingrich, Kennedy and Bush. From Clinton/Gingrich we got welfare reform, HMOs, DADT, Grahm-Leech-Biley and the Commodities Modernization Act. From Kennedy/Bush we got No Child Left Behind, Medicare Plan D, and the Patriot Act.

    Hell, Obama and Boehner have been striking quite a few compromises on their own. What do you think the Sequester even is? A big fat compromise.

    You can say some of these bills were absolute shit. You can say they were ill-conceived and poorly administered. But you can’t say they weren’t big fat compromises. :-p

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Zifnab:

    What do you think the Sequester even is? A big fat compromise.

    I have always seen the sequester as something designed to create an unacceptable situation in order to force a real deal down the road. We are now “down the road.” If you want to call that a compromise, fine.

  83. 83
    Zifnab says:

    @👽 Martin:

    But one of the universal policy agreements on the left is to cut the defense budget and that is impossible to do without costing jobs – lots of them. The price of a smaller defense budget is a lot of layoffs and higher unemployment. Period. If that is unacceptable, then the calls for defense spending need to end right here and now.

    I think a lot of Democrats see defense cuts as a sort-of reverse “Drown it in the bath tub” strategy. If Republicans see the military budget getting starved, they’ll crack. And when they do, they’ll come to the table willing to accept more domestic non-military spending as a trade.

    The transition is going to be painful, in much the same way that a full expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts were expected to be painful. But Republicans don’t seem to have the stomach for bluffing. When the chips are down and shit hits the fan, they come to the table ready to compromise. And when they compromise, the President and his liberal allies are often able to squeeze in a bunch of goodies to their constituencies.

    Its not good economics to play chicken with the economy every six months. But it does appear to be effective politics.

  84. 84
    gene108 says:

    @Zifnab:

    From Clinton/Gingrich we got welfare reform, HMOs, DADT, Grahm-Leech-Biley and the Commodities Modernization Act.

    You forgot sCHIP.

    Also, too DADT at least made it legal for gays to serve in the military. Prior to DADT it was 100% illegal for any homosexual to be in the military, whether they were in the closet or out in the open.

    In short, DADT was progress in the right direction for liberals, even though liberals refuse to believe it because it didn’t go far enough, but went further than the status quo.

  85. 85
    Chris says:

    @👽 Martin:

    It’s unavoidable. Not in this specific case, because the cuts are administered stupidly. But one of the universal policy agreements on the left is to cut the defense budget and that is impossible to do without costing jobs – lots of them. The price of a smaller defense budget is a lot of layoffs and higher unemployment. Period. If that is unacceptable, then the calls for defense spending need to end right here and now.

    True. There are a lot of reasons why the “military industrial complex” has gotten as bloated and unmanageable as it has, but one of the big ones is that it’s the only form of jobs program that can get bipartisan support in Congress. (Even Ike’s national highway project was sold to conservatives as a strategic element of the Cold War).

    ETA: IANAEconomist, but it seems to me that an activist enough government *should* be able to soften the blow by making up for defense cuts by investing actively in some other sector that could hire a lot of the now-jobless defense employees/contractors. Exactly what that investment would consist of, I don’t know, but it’s a moot point given that it would never pass in our current climate; all non-defense-related spending is communism.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: (

    Even Ike’s national highway project was sold to conservatives as a strategic element of the Cold War).

    Can we figure out how to sell high speed rail and fiber optic cable the same way?

  87. 87
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Not with ideology being what it is.

    It used to be possible to get the business sector to support projects like this with the understanding that they’d do very well out of the resulting government contracts (this is where the whole 1950s/60s “moderate Republican” movement came from), but it’s gotten a lot harder these days simply as a result of the bloody-mindedness that plagues the entire nation.

    (It’s not just regular conservative “rubes” who vote against their economic self-interest. The entire small and medium sized business community would’ve thrived from, say, a public option, let alone single payer – it would’ve spread the burden of health care for their employees to all of society instead of putting it all on them. But you didn’t see any kind of push for that from them during the HCR debate; if anything, they tended to be on the other side. Unenlightened self-interest is the order of the day all around).

  88. 88
    ricky says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: There are no spaces available for literalists, foolish or not, on Moon Colony 1.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: I know, I should have included a unicorn that farts rainbows in my list.

  91. 91
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @burnspbesq: with the current makeup of the Court, seems like a good thing they didn’t reach the merits.

  92. 92
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @Joe Buck: bullshit on the 60. Not all Ds are created equal, we had and have some real dogshit ones. Lieberman, while by 09 an independent, caucused with us, and look how fucking useful he was. Baucus is another “Democrat”. I could go on. 60 votes my ass.

  93. 93
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @burnspbesq: I didn’t see that you made my point for me. We’re lucky we had the 60 votes for what passed. And that was only after Lieberman and Baucus went out of their way to torpedo any hope of a public option.

  94. 94
    Anoniminous says:

    I’ve never understood why anyone thinks presidents have the magical ability to get Congress to pass stuff that Congress doesn’t want to pass.

    Most Americans are ignorant of how the US political system works. Example, having an email fight with an otherwise intelligent person who won’t get it through his head if Congress appropriates $X for Y then the Executive Branch, by law, has to spend $X for Y.

  95. 95
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    DON’T FORGET THE PONY!!!

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Or Poland for that matter.

  97. 97
    ericblair says:

    @Chris:

    ETA: IANAEconomist, but it seems to me that an activist enough government *should* be able to soften the blow by making up for defense cuts by investing actively in some other sector that could hire a lot of the now-jobless defense employees/contractors. Exactly what that investment would consist of, I don’t know, but it’s a moot point given that it would never pass in our current climate; all non-defense-related spending is communism.

    My thoughts exactly on this. The majority of national defense work is the same sort of project management, personnel management, IT, construction, high-end manufacturing, logistics, and research infrastructure as civil projects would be. It’s the largest organization in the world, capable of huge complex long-term development and implementation, and there are world-threatening problems that it could be directed into. But the Republicans will have to be completely powerless at the federal level to allow this kind of redirection because SOSHULISM.

  98. 98
    Chris says:

    @ericblair:

    Yeah, I agree. It would take a massive ideological shift to make that sort of thing happen, the sort of shift we haven’t seen since the New Deal (and possibly even greater than that). Not sure what could make it happen, but I don’t expect the public’s hard-on for the military-industrial complex – or its reluctance to support projects of the same scale in any other sector – to change any time soon, possibly not in my lifetime (and I’ve got at least half a century of life left, ideally).

  99. 99
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @👽 Martin: Pretty nonresponsive if you ask me. He caucused with the Democrats because you need to caucus with one of the parties if you want to be able to do anything. Whatever his party affiliation (or lack thereof), he was generally Democratish (and was counted as such, most of the time), the same way Manchin, Baucus, Casey (I could go on) are “Democratish.” You’re not making any observation that isn’t obvious, it doesn’t in any way address the merits of the post you’re responding to. It’s just being pedantic.

  100. 100
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @gene108:

    Also, too the President can’t dictate to the Senate what Senators are in charge of what assignments. Even Bush, Jr. in all his dictatorial glory couldn’t demand the Senator from one of the New England states, who switched to Independent, in 2001, be stripped of assignments and demoted.

    *scratches head*. Wait, you mean, they’re coequal branches? *head explodes*

  101. 101
    Rex Everything says:

    I remember when it was the firebaggers who wanted Obama to be more magically powerful about health care reform.

    You remember wrong.

    We wanted him to begin negotiations from a genuinely left-liberal position.

    There’s nothing—nothing whatsoever—the least bit “magical” about that.

  102. 102
    Rex Everything says:

    I mean come on, remember this?

    “President Obama made a backroom deal last summer [i.e. 2009] with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....00999.html

    You know it doesn’t take “magic” to refrain from pulling crap like that.

  103. 103
    burnspbesq says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut:

    with the current makeup of the Court, seems like a good thing they didn’t reach the merits.

    You do not and will not hear me try to talk you out of that belief.

  104. 104
    DougW says:

    @Bruce S: Tee Hee… Too funny – like anyone could understand those bastardos!

  105. 105
    NR says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    All that said, the root of the problem was Republicans shattering filibuster record during Obama’s first two years in office.

    Except that the Democrats could have done away with the filibuster at any time with a simple majority vote.

    The Republicans were only a problem because the Democrats wanted them to be a problem. They needed a “bad cop” so that they could come in and play the “good cop.” But what people forget is that the good cop and the bad cop are working for the same person, and it ain’t you.

  106. 106
    NR says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Fixed. Democratic Senators lied about their support when they didn’t think it would go anywhere.

    And you are willing to continue to vote for and support a party that lies to you?

  107. 107
    NR says:

    @Rex Everything: But…. But…. SIXTY VOTES!

  108. 108
    Jeffro says:

    @Liza: Ditto THAT!

  109. 109
    Jeffro says:

    @ericblair: Not because SOSHULISM…it’s just because the last thing we’d want to do is beat swords into plowshares, right?

  110. 110
    Rex Everything says:

    @NR: lol. I want a Democratic president who governs to the left of Reagan AND A PONY!!

Comments are closed.