If President Obama had stood on the high ground of these values in his first year and confronted members of his own party who stood in the way of change, his public standing would be greater, and more progressive reform proposals would already be laws.
I think you are forgetting that if Obama didn't do it, then by definition it couldn't have been done.
I seem to remember meetings with Bush, Obama and McCain before the elction. The articles at the time described McCain as not saying anything, and Obama asking a bunch of good questions and coming up with ideas.
I remember thinking at the time "god, I hope Obama wins. That's the kind of guy we need in the White House and McCain doesn't know what the hell he is doing."
That is the same crisis -- which exploded during the Bush presidency -- from which we still have not recovered, which has progressively worsened.
That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington -- the central promise of his campaign -- by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington. Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets.
There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party -- controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country's vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse -- now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.
But the Democratic Party's failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner -- continuing America's endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living -- renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans. As has happened countless times in countless places, those answers are now being provided instead by a group of self-serving, hateful extremist leaders eager to exploit that anger for their own twisted financial and political ends. And it seems to be working.
Enough of this sitting in the White House and trying to be above the political fray. It's time to get down and dirty and rough up the GOP.
The time for that was 18 months ago when it became clear that the GOP was trying to keep the economy in bad shape to advance their political goals.
It's now going to be a lot harder to do stuff after so much time has gone by since the election, and after Obama has specifically adopted some GOP talking-points about the economy (like stealing Boehner's lines about spending cuts)
I’m finding it hard to read about politics these days. I still don’t think people in the administration understand the magnitude of the catastrophe their excessive caution has created. I keep waiting for Obama to do something, something, to shake things up; but it never seems to happen.
Here’s what I wrote in February 2009. It’s pretty rich that now the usual suspects are accusing me of having shared the administration’s optimism. But that’s a trivial point; the important thing is that all signs are that the next few years will be a combination of economic stagnation and political witch-hunt.
lets put the enforcement of the regulations aside for a min. it's a smaller point.
My main point was that the MAIN problem with health care is the insurance companies. If you stop one of their horrible practices, another pops up in it's place. I do not have faith that regulations can stop insurance company evil practices, and there's strong evidence that regulations to that effect have not necessarily worked all that well in the past.So again, we need to work away from the private insurance model.
Now, success in HCR would be to make steps to get away from the Insurance Company model of health care. The Public Option or expanded Medicare would have been examples of this. Those are steps in the right direction.
Instead, the law cements the Insurance Industry as the very center of our health care system. It actually forces us to be their customers under penalty of law. It takes no substantial steps to move away from private health insurance. In fixing the main problem, we just went backwards.We have no new option besides private insurance.
And even if you think that on balance it was slightly positive, we lost the best chance we have had and will have for a long time to move more down the correct path. The opportunity cost of the legislation not being good enough is gigantic.
You don't think we could have gotten more. You don't know that and neither do I. However, I do know that my president didn't fight hard enough to move us down the correct path towards fixing it, and then attacks us when we are sufficiently excited to support him anymore.
My grandfather passed away this last spring. He was a good man who worked hard all his life for the same company, and was lucky enough to have worked for a company that is still honoring its pension promises.
We have a family story of when the family was at Disney World. The family seperated for a while to go on different rides, and we were to meet up at a designated time after that. My grandparents had been waiting more than an hour in a line for one of the lesser rides that was mostly just sitting in a chair that moved around to see animatronic stuff. Well, as they were getting to the front of the line, it became clear that they were going to be late getting to the meeting place. They would get on the ride by that time, but couldn't quite make the walk back to the meeting place without being a few minutes late.
So they got out of the line when they were at the front, after the long wait, jsut so they wouldn't be a few minutes late to meet us (we might worry, and they said they would be there). That's the kind of people they were. They lived by their word and always thought about others.
So of course, when my grandfather got sick (foot infection; he was diabetic), the family rallied around him. He had private insurence. Good private insurance, negotiated by his company decades ago with massive amounts having been paid to the insurance company over decades. the kind that you can't even really get anymore.
Still, when he had to go into a skilled nursing facility, it started costing the insurance company a lot of money. The insurance company responded by pulling all sorts of dirty tricks to get out of paying. Stuff like denying coverage for the next week on friday afternoon, meaning that it wouldn't be paid for unless we appealed it within a matter of hours. The family had to set up what was basically a command-center, with somebody manning the phones and making phone calls to the insurance company and nursing facility every friday afternoon, and with a hiarchy of responsibility and delegation for different family members. Among the family members working on getting the coverage continued were an attorney, a health-care professional, and a long-time office manager with lots of experience dealing with such matters.We had a very good team set up to fight the insurance company. We fought hard, even bringing in the large company my grandfather used to work at to bring pressure on the insurance company.
We fought the dirty tricks put forth by the insurance company for a long time, at great cost to us emotionally, in time spent, and even missed work. We were mostly successful, but the insurance company finally got my grandfather declared in a state of stasis, meaning that there was not enough of a chance he would get better and that the care was only maintaining his health instead of improving it. That finally allowed the insurance company to stop paying for skilled nuring care, and the family could no longer afford to keep him in the facility.
He went home, and we hired private nurses, with the idea of doing it until he could recover enough to not need them. My grandparents started bleeding through their life savings at a fast rate (it was still cheaper than the nursing facility). Being chilren of the Depression, they had lived modestly and saved a lot over the years. We looke dinto verterans's care, since he had fought in WWII, but it would only help after their life savings was used up.
Ultimately, my grandfather stopped eating and got weak enough to pass on. It is my own beleif (he denied it at the time, of course) that he stopped eating to make sure that my grandmother would be left with enough money to live on instead of them burning through it all on his care.
Through this, I learned just how evil the insurance industry is, and how it is a gigantic barrier to people receiving health care.
I thought Obama understood this. During the campaign, he talked about his mother's struggles with her insurance company as she was dying. I really beleived he would try with all his might, that he would do everything and anything he could do to fix this.
But then he took single-payer off the table before negotiation seven started. He handed the initial job of coming up with a bill to senators bought by the insurance companies. he gave some lip service to the public option while dealing it away in agreements behind closed doors. He praised a few specific obstructionists and twisted liberal arms.
What we ended up with was a law that actually enshrined into law the centrality of the insurance industry in our healthcare system. We are forced by penalty of law to give money to the very companies that have so victimized us. And with inadequate protections and no other options for us.
If I learned anything during our fights with the insurance company, is that dealing with them is like playing "whack-a-mole." They have the means and the motivation to keep coming up with new dirty tricks and if you defeat one trick, they pop up with another. So long as they control our health care, they will screw us over, no matter how many specific regulation you put on them.Did you know that it was already illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions in California, but that it still happens in record numbers because the state doesn't have the resources to find the larger companies? Did you know that the health care law enforces the pre existing conditions ban by letting the states enforce it and without giving a dime to the states for that purpose?
But meanwhile, the Administration attacks people like me who are not happy about the core problems not being fixed (like with healthcare, or "too big to fail", etc) and tells us to shut up and be greatful for the meager scraps we've been given. How can the be so blind and out of touch?