From The Pols Are Pols File

Chris Bowers celebrates Arlen Specter's "conversion" to support for the public option (Byron Dorgan also now supports it and Jay Rockefeller made a great statement in support of the public option) but then frets:

The concept of making Democrats vote for more progressive legislation through primary challenges is predicted on the notion that we are dealing with people who are fundamentally self-centered, power hungry, and morally flexible. We believe primaries can pressure certain members of Congress into changing their minds on important votes because some members of Congress care more about keeping their job than about the legislation they pass. In other words, we are banking on members of Congress being power-hungry and immoral.

Welcome to the real world Chris. Pols are pols and do what they do. What WE do, in the face of that reality, is what a lot of us have been talking about for a while.

Speaking for me only

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    Worse, Bowers frames it... (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by lambert on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 12:35:48 PM EST
    ... as a victory for "make him do it." I'd say that nothing has been "done" until legislation is crafted and passed -- and since nobody can say with any specificity what public option actually is, all we have are some words from Arlen Spector.

    There is no "make him do it" because nothing has actually been done.

    Of course, I'm, like, totally certain Spector won't change his mind later...

    True enough (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 12:42:24 PM EST
    And to be honest, what the hell do I know about the issue? Not much to be honest.

    As I recall, you are not a big fan of the public option - thinking it impedes single payer.

    Did you know that Bill Clinton said that single payer "should be" the most efficient system, in a "rational world?"

    He also said try for 60, but if it take 51 for meaningful health care reform, then 51 (really 50 actually, VP casts the tie breaker) it is.


    Yes, I remember it well (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by lambert on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 04:21:35 PM EST
    Here's a link to the Clinton quote.

    I also know that Obama supported single payer in 2003 -- "I am a proponent of a single-payer universal healthcare program" -- and, even more amazingly, used the single payer slogan "Everybody in, nobody out" also in 2003.

    I think the public option or plan is ill-defined. We're whipping bullet points instead of crafted legislation (like single payer's HR 676) and in the end I fear we're going to have to pass something, anything, NOW NOW NOW, which has been a recipe for disaster in the USA Patriot Act, AUMF, and TARP.

    The public option also has a "Goldilocks" probem, where the system can't compete so successfully with private insurance that they go out of business, and yet must compete successfully enough so that they keep the insurance companies honest (which is impossible anyhow, because the incentive for profit always means they have  every incentive to collect the premium and deny care). How do we get to "just right"?

    And that's before we get the how public option is going to cope with insurance companies cherrypicking the healthy, how public option is going to be framed as welfare or a tax and chipped away at, and how public option translates into locking the for-profit model into health care forever and ever by guaranteeing the insurance companies a market through the mandate, and ensuring that health care is never a right.

    And that's before we get to Sibelius saying the legislation will be crafted to prevent single payer from evolving out of public option.

    Then there's the fact that there are literally no successful examples of success for the sort of hybrid system that seems to be evolving, making the whole exercise into a gigantic experiment, without informed consent. Advocating single payer, by contrast, is science- and not hope-based: It's known to work.

    So, yeah, you might say I'm not a big fan. Since the Republicans aren't going to give anything anyhow, just like the stim pack, why not toss this Rube Goldberg contraption in the cr*pper, and go for the best?

    NOTE And then there's leaving $350 billion on the table in adminstrative costs for private health insurance vs. single payer, and raising taxes instead. When FDR listened to conventional wisdom and raised taxes after the economy started to recover, we got the mini-Depression of 1937-38.


    Bowers actually frames Specter's reversal as a (none / 0) (#57)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:41:51 PM EST
    victory for his Accountability Now project which is a "make them do it" initiative; "them" being Congressional Democratic incumbents who may succumb to progressive pressure under threat of being unseated come the time of their next reelection bid.

    To my knowledge, Bowers and Accountability Now don't ever say "make him do it"; "him" being President Obama who, let's not forget, is also up for reelection in a couple of years.

    Evidently, Bowers doesn't have the top-down guts to even go there. Maybe that's the thing he's really getting "depressed" about and, if so, who could blame him.


    The way some people talk about the (5.00 / 6) (#16)
    by Anne on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:34:37 PM EST
    public option, you would think there was an actual plan with oodles of details and explanations of who could participate and what would be covered and all those other things most people pay fairly close attention to when choosing a health plan.

    [Wait - am I the only one who didn't receive my commemorative edition of the public option plan?]  

    Seriously, is there anyone who actually trusts Specter any farther than they could throw him?  Who can't hear him saying in the not-too-distant future, "I said I would vote for A public plan, not THIS public plan?"

    Ask any five people you know if they know what the public option plan is all about.  Oh, you'll get answers, and any one or all of them might be right, because there is no actual plan - "plan" is just a word that is rapidly losing all meaning.

    It should come as no surprise that Obama is still making use of his ability to get people's support with nothing more substantive than cotton-candy rhetoric, but now it's being applied to issues that will directly affect people's lives; by the time people discover that their stint on the cheerleading squad got them a crappy health care bill, it will be too late.

    Not quite (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by lambert on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 04:26:58 PM EST
    You write:

    by the time people discover that their stint on the cheerleading squad got them a crappy health care bill, it will be too late.

    I think you mean got us a crappy health care bill (by "us" I mean the whole country).


    You're right, lambert, (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by Anne on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 05:49:50 PM EST
    in that it will be all of us who suffer...but when and if it all goes to hell in a handbasket,  those who are cheering and whipping for the-plan-that-isn't-a-plan are only going to care about how bad the reality is for themselves - no, we will probably hear massive whining about why we didn't try harder to save them from the agony of finding out that it really was just a pile of horse poop in the corner and there never were any ponies.

    For sure, Obama will take none of the blame; I've decided that is one reason he's careful to leave the details to Congress - so he can blame them when it fails.


    There may be a plan, actually. (none / 0) (#19)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:56:42 PM EST
    To have a "public option" included after a mighty struggle so it can be touted as a win, but one that is either designed as a privatized co-op that is not a competitive threat (eviscerating Dr. Krugman's concept) or a vulnerable version of Medicaid.  

    If we don't know what it's going to be (none / 0) (#25)
    by Anne on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:25:10 PM EST
    one that is either designed as a privatized co-op that is not a competitive threat (eviscerating Dr. Krugman's concept) or a vulnerable version of Medicaid.  

    then it isn't a plan - it's just a bunch of ideas.

    How do you get behind something if you don't know what it is you're supporting?


    The devil is in the "plan", (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 04:05:00 PM EST
    not to mention the likely details. Progressives, as a consolation prize, are being manipulated into a place where a good "plan" has a public option and a bad plan doesn't. The plan, however,  is tractable so as to seek the common ground the president worships on.  If a serious public option is intended, the plan would need little definition and would build on  an historic success with the extension and adaption of Medicare.

    Time for a * Where's the beef?* moment w/ Obama! (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by jawbone on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 06:13:38 PM EST
    What you got, Mr. President? Where's the plan?

    He's got to get something on the record, tell us what he stands for.

    This is like fighting fog. Word fog.

    The OFA meeting I went to had a petition to sign, supporting the Public Plan--with absolutely no detail, even an outline. I did not sign.

    They wanted us to call to "support Obama's plan," but could not tell us what the plan was.  There were three people who said they would support whatever Obama supported; the other 17 or so said give us details, so we can evaluate, see if it's worth supporting.

    I'm feeling like a mushroom....

    Yeh...it's pretty dark in here... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by oldpro on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:04:04 PM EST
    So, no ponies under all that manure, (none / 0) (#47)
    by Anne on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:40:25 PM EST
    just fungi.

    BTD (none / 0) (#3)
    by kmblue on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 12:49:53 PM EST
    Did you read Krugman today?

    I did (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:04:50 PM EST
    I wrote a post about it but my computer ate it and I have not had a chance to redo it.

    Allow me to blogwh*re a headline... (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by lambert on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 04:31:25 PM EST
    ... in the hope that you find inspiration from it. In response to Krugman: I've looked at O from both sides now...

    From win and lose

    and still somehow...


    Is there an actual bank for that? (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 12:56:32 PM EST
    In other words, we are banking on members of Congress being power-hungry and immoral.

    Where do I go to take that bet? I'm sure it would do better than my 401k. I would not limit it to members of Congress however.

    A vote is a vote. I care not about the motivations of those who vote 'yea' on my issues. Of course, I am most thankful for good champions to persuade the reluctant, but what gets them to hit the 'yea' button is up to them.

    "banking on . . . (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:13:47 PM EST
    . . . members of Congress being power-hungry and immoral"

    I also bank on the sun rising in the east and the sky being blue and I think the chance of being disappointed on any of those points is about equal.

    does that make me a bad person?

    btw (none / 0) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:17:38 PM EST
    thrilled to hear about the (death bead) conversions to the public option.
    now if we can just get the one all important BIG conversion at the top and get him to stop requesting it and start demanding it.

    No need for conversion on the issue (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:25:27 PM EST
    The question is will he pull out the big stick when the moment comes.

    Unlike Krugman, I do not believe that moment has come yet.


    god (none / 0) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:32:38 PM EST
    I hope you are right.  I have gotten a bit weak in my convictions that his meanderings are tactical.
    but I still hope.

    welcome back (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:34:23 PM EST

    thanks (5.00 / 9) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:36:27 PM EST
    Argentina was lovely  . . . .

    They make me nervous (none / 0) (#11)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:30:15 PM EST
    as I question their idea of a "public option".

    Who me jaded?


    It is depressing for cynicism to be validated (none / 0) (#7)
    by magster on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:17:33 PM EST
    even when its validated by a small success of a campaign Bowers himself devised that is rooted in cynicism.

    Life is depressing (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:24:40 PM EST
    but you have to live it.

    I've learned that I'm much happier (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:29:07 PM EST
    seeking my heroes in places where heroes hang out.  I have recovered from lookin for love in the wrong places....but like any addict I could slip and have to get back on the wagon again.  I have to check in with myself and reality all the time :)

    MT pleas share: where (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 04:03:20 PM EST
    do the true heroes hang out?

    Usually somewhere in our everyday (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:17:16 PM EST
    lives right under our noses and not even tooting their own horn.  With Joshua's particular problems I have special access to quite a few.  I can't describe to you the efforts of many of the professional people who work for special needs children in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy but I can tell you that when I was trying to figure out what sort of life to rebuild they were on my frontlines.  They make ordinary pay, give all day from the bottom of their hearts, lead fairly humble lives.  I've seen the doctor who invented the rib device that saved my son's life so tired and not even able to count what day it probably was and just about to nap on his feet after it was finally FDA approved. The nurse who cared for Joshua when they first implanted everything in him and he hurt very badly and wouldn't look at me or speak to me for two days or so.  I have stopped looking for political heroes though and was never one for sports heroes.

    A poignant testimonial. (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:23:47 PM EST
    Today I had a follow up appointment with the audiologist, who spent almost two hours with me.  She is a survivor of endrometrial cancer.  Really wants to get it right for her patients.

    There really are some amazing (none / 0) (#51)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 08:51:04 PM EST
    people out there.  They swap out the light they carry for fresh every day.

    Now that is one profound philosophical statement. (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Dr Molly on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:45:27 PM EST
    Downright Samuel Beckett-ish!

    I'm going to use that all the time now. "Life is depressing. But you have to live it."



    "Nothing to be done." (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 07:56:38 PM EST
    Just waiting for godot. (5.00 / 0) (#50)
    by Dr Molly on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 08:05:06 PM EST
    I can't go on (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 11:49:14 PM EST
    I'll go on.

    There ya go. (none / 0) (#12)
    by oldpro on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:30:37 PM EST
    to quote Firesign Theater (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:33:43 PM EST
    "live it or live with it"

    Magster, I agree that the Bowers project (none / 0) (#54)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:07:18 PM EST
    Accountability Now is "rooted in cynicism".

    When it launched, I said it was "compromised at the core" because it focuses exclusively on pressuring Democratic Congressional incumbents, while excluding any questioning of Obama and his Administration.

    In other words, it's an abject failure of courage to go after the 'foot soldiers' without also going after the guy at the top.

    Is that your take on it as well?


    Bowers is no fan of Obama (none / 0) (#61)
    by magster on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 03:41:20 PM EST
    while it seems directed at Blue Dogs, I expect the Make Them Do It campaign might be targeted to Obama as we get closer to 2012.

    Chirs Leads the Charge (none / 0) (#17)
    by Pacific John on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 01:34:53 PM EST
    to primary Obama.

    Us bubbas are right behind you, Chris.

    Appalachia is a state of mind (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:13:21 PM EST
    Ready to go back.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by cawaltz on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 08:59:56 PM EST
    Chris was against primarying Obama before he was for it, for sure. Some of us actually wanted a floor vote back in the primaries and had real problems with a nominee getting votes and delegates he didn't earn.....

    I think those are Bowers' words (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:15:28 PM EST
    not Rockefeller's. Though Jay may agree in his heart of hearts, I doubt he would say it out loud.

    I've got an idea... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:18:14 PM EST
    why don't we draft senators and reps like a military draft instead of holding elections.  That way, the odds are good the person drafted wouldn't even want the job, and would have no reason to flip-flop all day long in an ideologically bankrupt manner to try and keep the job...they'd legislate and vote on conscience.  By the time they got manipulative and ruthless, it would be time for the next draft.  And for most Americans it would mean a short-term pay raise!

    The downside is you could draft a total knucklehead, but we elect knuckleheads too so that's probably a wash. Though I guess people would try to dodge congress duty like they try to dodge jury duty...and we'd end up with the real winners.  Oh well, back to the drawing board:)  

    Though I'm convinced as long as we've got career politicians our core problems will never be solved...there just ain't any money or power in solving core problems, only in appearing to attempt to address them and blaming the other guy when the problems remain.

    I read once (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:43:53 PM EST
    I cant remember where, about a tribe who, when picking a leader, found the one person who most did not want to be the leader and made them do it.

    Interesting... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:56:15 PM EST
    but that's the fatal flaw in the idea...a draft is indentured servitude, and I ain't down with that.

    well (none / 0) (#33)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 03:37:12 PM EST
    in this case if I understood and remember right in this case it would not be because the whole tribe was down with this from the beginning.

    I wish I could find it.  I tried googleing but no luck.


    the American way of life is basically indentured (none / 0) (#53)
    by of1000Kings on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:01:23 PM EST

    so that wouldn't change much...


    I'd settle for public financing... (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 03:20:00 PM EST
    ...of all campaigns.  You want to run for office?  Here's your million bucks, don't spend it all in one place, 'cause that's all your going to get.  

    No PAC $'s, no secret slush funds, no lobbiest $, no fund raising BBQ's, no nothin'.  

    Maybe then they'd learn a little about fiscal responsibility too.


    bingo (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 03:35:33 PM EST
    money does not equal free speech.  that idea always seem ludicrous to me.
    if that was true some people really would be more equal than others.

    of course they are currently but we are talking about what should be, right?


    Money equals speech (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 05:13:20 PM EST
    brought to you by the same people who want corporations to be considered indivual citizens.

    Yeah well, Mr OptOut "won". (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 05:18:40 PM EST
    But I would love to see your option move into being. We gotta wait though . . . Our current admin is a tad addicted to "fund raising".

    Talk about dinging people (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:24:59 PM EST
    who give off an aroma of malfeasance :).  Okay, it isn't malfeasance we smell as much as the dying embers of hopium :)

    smells like (none / 0) (#29)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:44:44 PM EST
    teen spirit!

    Pols are for sale (none / 0) (#55)
    by pluege on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:20:48 PM EST
    to the highest bidder or anyone who threatens their neat little money machine.

    go ahead (none / 0) (#56)
    by diogenes on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:31:07 PM EST
    You're welcome to replace a conservative dem in Kentucky with a liberal one in a bloody primary and see how the general election goes in 2010.
    If the liberal wins, you get a republican elected.  If the conservative dem wins the primary by making liberal promises, then he'll do what he wants in the general election campaign and in office anyway since he is corrupt and power-hungry, right?

    Tired argument about Red State Dems (none / 0) (#58)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 09:54:42 PM EST
    Red State Dems are not the only problem Dems. Your argument is worthless, imo, unless of course you're quite happy with spineless, leave things as they are masses and government who is in it for themselves and the select few. Same argument has been used forever about third parties also.

    So we "can't" back progressives (or for Repubs, sane conservatives), "can't" grow more parties ("it's like voting for the other party!!!" clutches pearls) and are expected to just settle for same ol' same ol' which has nothing in it for us when all is said and done? Oy.

    You didn't vote for "change" did you? And if you did, I'm guessing your happy?


    when representatives stop becomming (none / 0) (#60)
    by of1000Kings on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 02:58:16 AM EST
    lobbyists after they 'retire' from Congress then maybe we won't think of them as just bloodsuckers...