Sunday, November 7, 2010

(More of) Obama's Legislative Accomplishments

Here. Some context here is helpful. Obama used to tell progressives that he believed in single payer, a position which he subsequently would come to reject. Having rejected the idea of single payer, Obama started off the Democrat primaries in the run-up to the 2008 election with the most conservative health care proposal in the field.

His proposal, essentially a watered-down version of Romney-Care from Massachusetts, has a history that is worth noting. The idea of an individual mandate to purchase private or public insurance emerged in the early 1970s from Richard Nixon as a response to Ted Kennedy's push for single-payer. The idea of a "health care marketplace" was hatched by the right-wing American Enterprise Institute as a response to Clinton's (already weak-sauce) proposal for health care reform. The idea of using a public plan (itself modeled on private plans) to pick up the slack left over after the for-profit plans have cherry-picked all of the least costly individuals to insure, was first put into action by Republican governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. So there you have it- basic components components of Obama's proposal emerged from the likes of Richard Nixon, AEI, and Mitt Romney. Progressive indeed.

Now, this is just a brief history of the ideas included in candidate Obama's proposal. The actual bill itself is actually a great deal less ambitious than the Republican-drafted proposal described above. Obama gave up on the public option when it became clear that industry "stakeholders" weren't having any of it (that's funny... I don't remember voting in elections in 2008 determining who the industry "stakeholders" with veto-power over legislation would be, do you?). Moreover, the Democrat's point-person for drafting the bill, Max Baucus, received the most contributions from the health insurance industry of any congressperson in 2008 (don't forget that the industry has something like 5 lobbyists for each member of Congress). All told, the industry spent millions trying to exact concessions from the Democrats, and so far it has proven to be money well-spent.

At every single stop along the way, Obama and the Democrats have compromised and given concessions to the powerful for-profit insurance industry. The priorities of Obama and the Democrats are on display here for all to see.

And, as if all of this wasn't frustrating enough, now it turns out that the Federal Government isn't even interested in enforcing the already tepid bill it passed, as the article above makes clear.

But just hold on one second- it actually gets worse. Obama and the Democrats signaled even before the Midterms that they are interested in making punishing cuts to Social Security and Medicare. It seems now, in the wake of the Midterms, that the Democrats are going to be even more aggressive in pushing through austerity measures. That means, in short, forcing the majority of the population to pay for the mess caused by reckless financiers and bankers who got bailed out by the Bush and Obama administration. Again, the priorities of the Democrats are on display for all to see. They sold us out to protect the assets of the rich and powerful. This has become something of a guiding theme since the Democrats took back Congress in 2006.

The task of progressives is not to apologize for this kind of right-wing treachery, but to fight it. Voting for the Democrats has little to do with democracy. This is what democracy looks like.

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