Jan 21, 2010

“Obama took all his winnings and turned them over to Max Baucus.”

Massachusetts Doesn't Want to Pay for Nebraska's Health Care!

That's right! Massachusetts has a more progressive health care system than what's being floated in Congress, so they voted for Republican Brown who opposed the federal version. Also, Coakley=terrible candidate, deserved to lose--even though I would have voted for her.

Here are a some more facts. MA is a "blue" state that predominately votes for Dems, but the majority of its voters are registered independent. Dems outnumber Repubs 3-1, but even Dems can cross party lines, as they did with Brown, 18+ %. The latter was a great campaigner who rode 2 waves and 1 low tide. One, the anti-Washington/big business/banks sentiment; two, the independent voters; three, Dem voter abstention. Did I mention that Coakley professed ..atheism in the church of Red Sox!

The independents and the Dems who broke for Brown by huge majorities think the health care bill is a bad one because it doesn't have a public option, or a single-payer, and it doesn't do anything to control the costs. Besides, Washington wasn't going to give them anything they didn't have already; if others states want what MA has, they should pay for it themselves...

Some other random thoughts that come to mind: A Democrat who's Republican-lite isn't very successful as voters go for the real thing. Many people would support, stick with a bold leader who's wrong than with a soft leader who's right. Bi-partisanship isn't possible with a party of "no." It doesn't mean much if you waste a year reaching to the other side but ultimately fail to produce anything good. It's good to try to build coalitions when you're a community organizer, but when you're the president you have to make decisions and move Congress and public opinion.

Consequences of the Republican Victories

One year ago, this past January 20th, Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, following a tremendous reversal of political fortunes. Within 2006 and 2008, the Republicans lost the Executive and control in both chambers of Congress... and lost them big! Obama had very sizeable majorities in the Congress. Oh, in case you have the impression that those majorities are gone, it's not so! The Dems have a 256-178 advantage in the House, and 57-41-2 in the Senate! Of the 2 independents, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is good, while J. Lieberman (I-CT) should be told to go to hell. The following should also be sent to purgatory: Lincoln (D-AR), Nelson (D-NB), Baukus (D-MT), and Landrieu (D-LA). As you can see, the mark of 50 is easily met, and with VP Biden much good legislation can take place.... IF there's good leadership.

To the salivating Republicans: You are still in the minority, and even though the Dems are doing a splendid job of screwing up, your party isn't gaining more than the people's frustration with the slow and ineffective Dem leadership. Your party is falling faster. Anti-incumbent sentiment, a bad economy, high unemployment--all predating Obama and current Congress--don't automatically translate into Republican supporters. Don't believe me? Good. Then keep doing what you're doing. Actually, embrace more the tea-baggers, the Sara Palins, the Limbaughs, and their cohorts.

"Let me see if I've got this straight: the only people who have fully recovered from the financial meltdown are the ones who caused the financial meltdown. And by recovered I mean apparently re-dipping their balls in gold."
---Jon Stewart

I think the Dems defeat in MA was like a mild heart attack that got the patient to the emergency room and may have prevented a fatal hearth attack in November. That is, IF the patient understands what needs to be done from now on. Thus, this minor problem can be a warning and not a death sentence. Further, the Dems can realize that they have to govern like other presidents who had fewer Senators and Reps, or even being short of the majority. A good signal now would be to tell Lieberman to get lost by stripping him of his committee chair.

I hear that the progressive Dems want to scrap the current version of the health care bill, simplify it, and offer a public option. Look, the current bill will cover millions of Americans who have no health insurance. BUT, it doesn't control the costs. This is UNSUSTAINABLE. Costs have been rising much, much faster than wages. I have good health insurance. My premiums have gone up and instead of my employer giving me raises, they pay higher and higher premiums too. It's not good for business, and if the US is about being competitive, well, we're aren't as much as we could be.

I hope Obama is a good and fast learner. He hasn't played well in the first quarter and his team is hurting. This year is his second quarter before we go to halftime (midterm elections). He has to pick it up quickly, because in this sport last quarter heroics are usually a sign of desperation and the "hailmarys" don't work.

PS>What's the matter with those Southern men who have extra-marital affairs and they lie when confronted about them, look us in the eye and deny something that they know will eventually come out. At least here in the Northeast, we have men who admit to their indiscretions! Clinton (D-AR) and Edwards (D-NC) denied their sexual trysts only to be doubly shamed later. At least our own gov. Spitzer admitted it when the allegations came out. Same with current gov Paterson who admitted cheating on his wife. Yeap, the institution of marriage is safer when same-sex couples are denied equal rights.

UPDATE, 1/22: This memo is interesting to read and basically makes many of the same points argued in this post.

UPDATE 1/24: New York Times Frank Rich's editorial is right on point. That's exactly what I've been saying. Here are some excerpts:

It was not a referendum on Barack Obama, who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown’s State Senate vote) in 2006. It was not a harbinger of a resurgent G.O.P., whose numbers remain in the toilet. Brown had the good sense not to identify himself as a Republican in either his campaign advertising or his victory speech.

The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it...

Worse, the master communicator in the White House has still not delivered a coherent message on his signature policy. He not only refused to signal his health care imperatives early on but even now he, like Congressional Democrats, has failed to explain clearly why and how reform relates to economic recovery — or, for that matter, what he wants the final bill to contain. Sure, a president needs political wiggle room as legislative sausage is made, but Scott Brown could and did drive his truck through the wide, wobbly parameters set by Obama....

Ask yourself this: All these months later, do you yet know what the health care plan means for your family’s bottom line, your taxes, your insurance? ...

[Obama] has stepped up the populist rhetoric lately — and markedly after political disaster struck last week — but few find this serene Harvard-trained lawyer credible when slinging populist rhetoric at “fat-cat” bankers. His two principal economic policy makers are useless, if not counterproductive, surrogates....The White House clearly knows this duo is a political albatross. ....

It’s become so easy to pin financial elitism on Democrats that the morning after Brown’s victory the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee had the gall to accuse them of being the “one party who bailed out the automakers and insurance companies.” Never mind that the Bush White House gave us the bank (and A.I.G.) bailouts, or that the G.O.P. is even more in hock than Democrats to corporate patrons. The Obama administration is so overstocked with Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin alumni and so tainted by its back-room health care deals with pharmaceutical and insurance companies that conservative politicians, Brown included, can masquerade shamelessly as the populist alternative.


Can anyone picture Obama exerting such take-no-prisoners leadership to challenge those who threaten our own economic recovery and stability at a time of deep recession and war? That we can’t is a powerful indicator of why what happened in Massachusetts will not stay in Massachusetts if this White House fails to reboot.


The smartest thing said as the Massachusetts returns came in Tuesday night was by Howard Fineman on MSNBC: “Obama took all his winnings and turned them over to Max Baucus.”


George said...

The 3rd picture in this post is from a book I read a few years back by David Cay Johnston, Perfectly Legal that shows how the big interests capture our government and get their huge benefets legally. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you said Coakley deserved to win... but you'd vote for her anyway. What's the message here?

George said...

The message is, she was a terrible candidate and the Dems in MA & DC were terrible tending to this important race for the US Senate.... for Teddy's old seat.

I do hope that when Obama runs for re-election in 2012, he'll be popular, will carry MA big and sweep Brown out of office.

B said...

Ben Neslon (from Nebraska) was an obstructionist, and wanted to get special treatment for his constituents. Even though that provision was taken out {who knows what the bill says though} the people of MA got the impression that they had more what the fed plan would give them and decided they didn't want to be taxed more to pay for others' health insurance.

jess said...

Scott Brown is a politician and handled this race much, much better than Coakley. However, he isn't all that formidable. I agree, he can be defeated in 2012.

Samantha said...

today Paul Krugman urges the Dems to pass a health care bill. I'm on the fence because I know this bill is very flawed... doesn't go far enough and delivers some 30 million new customers to the insurance agencies without doing much to cut costs. :(

anne said...

I honestly believe that Obama could have delivered a better policy in his first year. The DOMA and DADT, GITMO, and of course health care reform.

I hope he won't screw up immigration reform as he did with health care.

I like the quote you have from Jon Stewart that the banks got so much more than the average person.

George said...

Perceptions matter. Obama handled the bailout badly. He gave to the banks without adequately asking for serious reforms... now he's going the populist route to control the big financials.

The people have a right to be upset especially when they see the state of the economy and their own predicament.

Being a community organizer is good and Obama could use such skills but he has to know when and where. He should have been much more forceful with the GOPs and his own party. He could easily have claimed a mandate to quickly do what he campaigned upon.

I think he's lost the momentum. He must regain it for immigration reform, etc.

Also, and this is unfortunate, the independents have to be convinced that Obama and the Dems are their best option as compared to the Rpubs.... And, the Dems should still be running on the incompetence and horrible effects of Republican policies.

Anonymous said...

Frank Rich is right. If the Dems don't read your blog, they probably read his editorial. I do hope they understand that political capital isn't something you save in a bank!