Does Krugman Have A Good GOTV Operation?

Paul Krugman urges House Dems to commit political suicide and pass a health bill without an excise tax fix. Krugman seems oblivious to the political realities. Now more than ever, after the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision (which also abolished limits on union spending on elections), having the unions firmly on the side of Democratic candidates is critical for avoiding an utter rout in November.

In addition, Krugman seems to have no clue what the House Dems are offering - passage of the Senate bill in exchange for a parallel reconciliation bill that reflects modifications of the Senate bill - most prominently to the excise tax. Krugman's tirade is completely separated from political reality and the actual discussion taking place now. Then again, maybe Krugman has a good GOTV operation to make up for it.

Speaking for me only

< Was The Excise Tax Worth It? | Friday Morning Open Thread >
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    Please complete my thought here: (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:28:24 AM EST
    We need the unions' GOTV so we can elect more democrats so the democrats can then vote to ___.

    If Democrats are not going to use their majorities to poass legislation that, even incrementally, improves peoples' lives, just so they improve their chances to win elections so they can do nothing the next term, what't the point?

    pass the health bill? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:30:41 AM EST
    Fund the health bill subsidies? Fund Medicaid expansion?

    If the excise tax is to you what single payer is to single payer purists, I would understand your argument.

    Tell me, are you thinking of supporting 3rd party run against Dems?


    But they're not doing those other things either (none / 0) (#5)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:43:50 AM EST
    it seems.

    And my support of the Senate Bill passing makes me a pragmatist, not an idealist, so I won't be going 3rd party anyway--unless Goldman and Exxon decide to spend a billion on me.


    Spitting in the eye of one of your party's most (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by esmense on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:09:41 AM EST
    important constituencies is not "pragmatism." It is political suicide.

    If the Democratic party no longer feels it can or wants to represent Labor (because doing so makes it unpopular with corporate donors and Wall Street?), than it should stop begging unions for money -- and stop begging union members to get out the vote for its candidates.

    I'm sure the country's bond traders and financial planners are ready to step in and fill the gap. (Sarcasm.)

    The votes are in in Massachusetts; union households voted for Brown. I think the fact that the administration had clearly demonstrated its willingness to screw them over, as so many Beltway wonks encourgaed them to do (some of that "Sister Souljah" nonsense they like so much), rather than ask the country's wealthiest earners to step up and help finance health care reform, is clearly why.

    If the party doesn't represent "the Left" -- that is, labor (organized and not), women, minorities, etc. -- all of whom have increasingly been told by this party that they must sit down and shut up -- who in the hell does it represent?

    If that's a party's repeated message to the people who depend on it for representation and most dependably get out the vote for its candidates, how long can it stay viable?

    I understand that you may not think unions have legitimate interests that should be represented in the political arean. Perhaps you see them as conflicting with your own best interest.

    What I don't understand is whether or not you consider yourself a Democrat? Or why you would?


    Thunder from the left (none / 0) (#15)
    by hookfan on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:23:01 AM EST
     in Mass. I smell a tornado in November. . .

    Yes because (none / 0) (#25)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:26:46 AM EST
    Scott Brown was a champion of the left. Remember how the left won the 2000 election man that was awesome it sure taught dems a lesson.

    Scott Brown won (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:52:36 AM EST
    because the PO'd left in Mass. stayed home.

    Also because he comes across as a pretty non-threatening moderate Republican, not a fire-breathing nutjob.


    True (5.00 / 5) (#31)
    by hookfan on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 11:58:15 AM EST
    and also many voted for the pin up, I suspect, as a protest vote. Either way, the message is clear, either get help for the working class, stop ticking off the oldsters, and quit playing with women's healthcare needs or people won't be voting for you in November.

    My November Vote (none / 0) (#40)
    by norris morris on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:47:04 PM EST
    As a life long Democrat my current disgust with the party is so visceral that I will not vote, or not vote for any Democrats up for election.

    The spineless stupidity of the House and Senate members who claim  to be Democrats is hard to believe.

    The President has not been effective in governing on any level. Obama has shown no political intuition and has followed the advice of those who compromised and sold out. He paid no attention to the "lock" that Coakley was supposed to be, and was tone deaf to the impending backlash.

    The Democrats are in disarray.  Healthcare was and is totally mismanaged.  The crucial problems in our economy have not been addressed and the Banks and Wall Street have not been disciplined. Mortgage program has been a total disaster plagued with unnecessary red tape and poor to  sloppily underperformed implementation.

    The rest is too sordid for me to enumerate, but we have not had a President. We've seen an American Idol figurehead who doesn't react or intuit the needs of our people.

    I'm all out.  


    Who is going to speak for all those people (none / 0) (#17)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:29:38 AM EST
    who are uninsured and sick?  Republicans?

    They have interests too, and no less a moral claim to Democrats support than the unions.

    I thought the Democrats goal was to support those who needed help, not "the Left".


    I hear the violins (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:32:46 AM EST
    Do you want the bill to pass or do you want to wax lyrical?

    The House Dems will NOT buck the unions. If you REALLY want to represent those groups, then understand the reality - the Senate has to agree to a parallel fix of the excise tax via a reconciliation bill.

    If you do not support that, you are standing in the way of the groups you are waxing lyrical over.

    Come back to Planet Earth.


    I think there is 0% chance the Senate does that (none / 0) (#21)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:43:57 AM EST
    concurrently. (at least for now--maybe during the lame duck session in December is when I'd shoot for.)

    I still think there is a 20% chance the unions will figure out some way to trust that to happen.

    So that's where my efforts go.


    Go where? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:51:08 AM EST
    Please explain why the unions (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 12:28:44 PM EST
    will not be mollified by the previous "fix"?

    Special Deal for Labor Unions


    Health insurance is not the same (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:39:44 AM EST
    thing as health care. Being forced to buy high cost insurance with high deductibles and copays can as now result in people having insurance but not actual health care.

    We can't tax Republicans? Why not? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by esmense on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:53:16 AM EST
    Makes a lot more sense to tax the wealthy base of the other party than to screw over your own working class supporters.

    The choice the Democrats faced wasn't whether or not to fund expanded health care -- it was

    You understand, of course, that good union jobs, in both the private and public sector, that offer good benefits and wages, are one of the best avenues into the middle class for the poor? Or don't you? You do know that minorities, African Americans and Hispanics, are more likely to be union members than whites?

    When you screw Labor, as the party has been doing for 30 years now, you screw the poor. The less leverage workers have in the workplace and the political arena, the more economic insecurity and downward pressure on wages all workers experience -- and the fewer opportunities available for people to WORK their way out of poverty.

    The controversial choice the Democrats made wasn't whether to fund expanded coverage for the uninsured -- that was a goal every member of its constituency, most especially Labor,has long supported and worked for. The controversy is in how they chose to pay for it -- by pitting the best interests of their own constituencies against each other because they didn't want to buck much more powerful interests.


    Doing what other things? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:46:19 AM EST
    those are the things that would have to happen for T"HIS bill to even mean something.

    the Senate health bill does not start until 2014. If there are no Dems to vote for funding of that bill in 2013 then it is as if it did not even pass.

    The separation from political reality from you and so many other excise tax supporters is amazing to me.


    Passing the very unpopular Senate bill (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:22:28 AM EST
    could in fact result in more harm then just not funding the subsidies. The Republicans could not fund the subsidies but keep the Democratic approved excise tax, the panel that can make changes to Medicare at will and reductions to the Medicare budget. IOW not fund the good parts and maintain each and every part that reduces care for people who have it now and those elements that allow further rape and pillage by the industries.

    They're very good at (none / 0) (#26)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:49:57 AM EST
    doing about-faces with a straight face, so to speak, but if this bill passes and the Republicans sweep into Congress again on widespread and aggressive campaigning against the bill, which is their plan and which seems their most likely road to success, they're going to have a very hard time doing what you suggest.

    The reason being that they've been, and will continue to be, loudly trumpeting the injustice of those very things most of all-- the excise tax on middle class families, the Medicare panel and the reduction in Medicare funding.

    And as a side note, the deal to give unions a bit of a break on the excise for a few years to give them time to renegotiate contracts has given them the perfect excuse to rail against the "special deal" for big bad unions at the same time they rail against the excise tax on non-union families.

    My guess is that, instead, they will simply vote to cancel the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel,
    and start over again with things like draconian "tort reform" and nationwide "competition," things that sound great to the average voter but which by themselves will enrich the insurance companies and drive policies to the lowest limits permitted by the most lax state in the union.

    They may actually keep the individual mandate plus the ban on preexisting exclusions, albeit with much higher or no limits on premiums.

    That'll be fun!


    On this we will agree to disagree (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 11:40:33 AM EST
    Pols run on a whole lot of things and do the exact opposite once that they get into office. The Republicans have been trying to reduce the Medicare budget for a long time. IIRC, Bush tried to reduce it by something like $170 billion and failed because of Democratic opposition. It took Obama to get the Dems to support a much larger reduction. The Medicare panel can be used to weaken Medicare. A long standing goal of the Republicans. Also, the Republicans would love to further weaken the Unions. Maintaining the excise tax on union workers is a sure fire way to do that since good benefits is one of the strongest selling points for workers to join a union.

    You're absolutely right, stevie (none / 0) (#6)
    by zaladonis on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:43:59 AM EST
    I think if Dems had used their power this past year in ways that helped people's lives, if voters could answer the old question "Are you better off than you were a year ago" with a solid yes, we wouldn't be facing these ridiculous problems of health care being stuck in the mud and November 2010 looking like a train wreck in the making.

    The answer is not more of the same "hold onto power for power's sake" but to use the power we have left to accomplish something that, come election day 2010 and 2012, voters want more of.


    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:28:38 AM EST
    Especially as, from what I've been reading, the CU decision is predicted to be much more favorable to Republican candidates, which tend to get more money from corporations. Add to that, union membership is continually falling, so in relation to what corporations will give, there could be a big disparity.

    Now, I don't think you'll see a multi-million dollar ad campaign by Goldman Sachs countering the Obama and the Dems' outrage about bonuses, but what I think is more likely is that companies will funnel money to groups like the Chamber of Commerce to run ads.

    Without a leader, (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by zaladonis on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:04:24 AM EST
    and clearly Dems don't have one with health care reform, nothing's going to happen with it now.  Just everybody arguing about what they think should be done and nobody to direct the course.  Obama has been unhelpful with HCR all along but he's been totally AWOL since Tuesday.

    And that's going to hurt us like crazy this year and going into midterms.

    The Democratic Party lost a great opportunity by electing Obama.

    I think this comment is silly (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:28:27 AM EST
    We have no idea if anyone would have handled any of this any better.  I prefer to work with what I have and compliment or criticize what I have, that is the only game in town that can be played in reality.

    Do really think Hillary would have genuflected to (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by rennies on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:22:32 PM EST
    the Snowes and Liebermans, tolerated a Stupak amendment. The difference between the two -- observable to me during the primaries -- is she has guts, discipline, and principles, whereas he is appallingly deficient in all three. On health care of all things there is someone else who would not have got the Democrats into such a mess.

    She may not have been as (none / 0) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:01:59 PM EST
    naive.  I don't think she would have counted on post partisan unity, she probably would have laughed at that.  She would have had many of the same advisors though.  I don't know how things would have turned out.

    Plus the media and blogs would have (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:25:25 PM EST
    been negative from the get go and the powers that be in the Dem. party, who backed Obama, would probably also be a hinderance.

    Nothing wrong with opposition (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by zaladonis on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:29:55 PM EST

    The problem with this healthcare bill is there's been no leader, a vacancy that's squarely the President's fault.  The Dem POTUS candidates were the ones who campaigned on their plans and made HCR promises.  If Kennedy had been well he would have taken that role for Obama but without him and with a President who has no genuine leadership ability --or interest-- this was failed before it started.

    Go back to the debates and you'll see Hillary Clinton had a very clear plan for health care reform, she knew every element of it backward and forward, knew what she wanted to achieve and why, she was ready and eager to lead it.

    Nobody knows what would have happened but there's plenty that points to a much more successful outcome if Hillary had led HCR with our 60 majority.


    You are preaching to the choir. (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:25:56 PM EST
    The MSM and the Serious bloggers (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:00:41 PM EST
    and the democratic establishment have not sought to advance a Democratic agenda and neither has the Obama administration. In fact, they have done their level best to thwart the public will and I believe that was the tacit pact they made at the get-go.

    Suffice to say, if any President actively pursued a Democratic agenda the Villagers would fight him, or her, tooth and nail.

    But...at least Hillary knows her @ss from her elbow, especially on health care and the economy, and it's hard to imagine that we wouldn't be faring somewhat better with a President Clinton in our corner.


    For some reason I think that (none / 0) (#44)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:15:57 PM EST
    Obama thought he was going to experience great success simply by not being George Bush.  I don't think it occurred to him that his base was really serious about getting those needed solutions and only being better than George Bush wasn't going to cut it at all.

    The "needed solutions" (none / 0) (#45)
    by Politalkix on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 10:42:40 PM EST
    of what you seem to consider the Democratic base and many other middle class people (eg: accountants, engineers, small business owners, etc) are often different. IMO, Obama is very sincere about building a big tent coalition for folks from the bottom end of the economic ladder to middle class to those who are reasonably affluent. Unfortunately, to many people in TL that I encounter every day, everything is a zero sum game.

    The problem principled Democrats have (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by zaladonis on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 07:51:09 AM EST
    with Obama is that he doesn't structure his policy around Democratic principles.  Bank bailouts WITHOUT regulations and lending requirements and other consumer protections is a Republican response, not a Democratic one.  Health care "reform" that protects and increases big profits for the insurance and pharma industries is a Republican response, not a Democratic one.  

    As for would Hillary have been better, not only would she have fought where he didn't (she's a fighter, he's "NoDramaObama"), what she fought FOR would have been better.  For instance Obama co-opted Hillary's mandated coverage, which he rejected during the campaign, and tossed aside the public option, which was what made mandated coverage make sense.  Demonstrating she was very clear about what she wanted to achieve while also understanding what she was up against, Hillary's plan really was a brilliant exchange, giving insurance companies tens of millions of new customers in exchange for not fighting competitive pricing that a public option would have provided insurance customers.  But Obama gave the insurance industry its millions of new customers and left out the part that reduced our costs.  Double win for insurance and the shaft for us.  Forcing people to buy insurance they can't afford that'll bring new truckloads of profits to Big Insurance, and providing no mechanism at all for lowered prices, is not what Hillary would have fought for.


    The Obama Fan Base (OFB) and life-long, (none / 0) (#47)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 02:36:34 PM EST
    dyed-in-the-wool, big-D Democrats are NOT the same people. Obama and the OFB are primarily concerned with the superficial, 'post-partisan' symbolism of electing Obama and keeping him in office. For them it's still all fine and dandy.

    The 18 million voters who supported the original front-runner in the primaries were more exclusively concerned with electing an experienced, loud and proud Democratic politician who would steadfastly pursue a Democratic agenda. It's those people who remain "really serious about getting those needed solutions" that would benefit Main Street from the ground up.


    I think the comment is spot on. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Cream City on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 11:40:58 AM EST
    With their new ability to spend (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:55:00 AM EST
    a lot more money, the Unions could spend it and GOTV efforts for a whole lot of primary challenges against incumbent Dems who threw them under the bus.

    IIRC, the AFL-CIO has mentioned this as a possibility.

    Also, I don't care how hard the Union leadership pushes their members to vote for the Dems, once the excise tax is passed, many of the rank and file members will stay at home or vote Republican.

    What's so great about the excise tax ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:37:32 AM EST
    even from an abstract policy point of view? Krugman seems quite enamored of it, but somehow I missed the explanations of why it's so good.

    It's obviously regressive.

    I'm self-employed and paying about $8000/year (myself only) for what seems to me reasonable coverage, PPO with $30 copays. It's not my idea of a gold-plated plan, but I'm pretty close to the threshold where the excise tax kicks in IIRC.

    I think the proponents elide (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by observed on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:48:23 AM EST
     explanation of the true mechanism, on purpose.
    The idea is that the excise tax will lead to less overuse of medical care, leading to a more efficient system.
    In other words, the lucky duckies in the middle class who  have good insurance are ruining it for the rest of us.
    The whole issue of the costs of unnecessary procedures and tests is quite complicated. I haven't seen anyone lay out a case that "cadillac insurance" is a big cause of it.
    Even if the argument is correct, you can see that it's a political loser.
    The way someone else put it is that Ezra Klein wants you to be forced into an HMO.
    Sound popular to you?

    I think that's pretty much right (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 08:52:50 AM EST
    The excise tax is a mechanism to kill PPOs.

    PPO's are popular (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:06:35 AM EST
    Very succinctly put.

    So much for "if you like the coverage you've got, you can keep it."


    Also skeptical (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:04:14 AM EST
    Thank you. That sounds like the right explanation. And, like you, I'm skeptical of the merits of the argument.

    Most informed observers agree that unnecessary tests and procedures contribute greatly to runaway medical costs. (I refer anyone who doubts this to Atul Gawande's "The Cost Conundrum" from The New Yorker.)

    Certainly, an excise tax that discourages good coverage would inhibit spending on unnecessary tests and procedures. But it seems to me it would equally discourage spending on useful tests and procedures. Surely ability to pay is going to be stronger factor than established clinical usefulness. In other words, the excise tax is just a backhanded way of restricting coverage.


    Yes, and the magic word is (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:47:02 AM EST
    "unnecessary"--pretty subjective when dealing with clinical situations.  Perhaps more relevant than restricting tests and procedures, since, at least, this infers that the patients are being seen for purposes of diagnosis and treatment, is discouragement of seeking care because of high co-pays and deductibles.  It becomes a self-diagnostic, self-rationing process, that, according to the Senate plan, is all to the good.  The premise is that health care delivery is like any other "business" and subject to the same "efficiencies" that come with progress. This fundamental flaw is either unrecognized or ignored in the service of what may well be  foolish economies.  This is a human experiment, not just a budget exercise or political pawn, that requires testing from many angles before subjecting what may be a dangerous harebrained idea on the entire population.  

    Thanks for making important point (none / 0) (#19)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 09:33:08 AM EST
    showing the connection between yesterday's Sup Court decision and the heightened importance of Dems' union constituency.

    Paul Krugman would feel at home (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 12:17:19 PM EST
    at TalkLeft:

    But I have to say, I'm pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

    Citation: (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 12:23:31 PM EST
    Krugman sold his soul to... (none / 0) (#36)
    by pluege on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:51:02 PM EST
    the 'lets just do it, its the best we can do devil'. Now he's invested and he just keeps on digging that hole.  

    Krugman's Bad Judgement (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by norris morris on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:28:09 PM EST
    I don't know where Krugman is coming from but his editorial in today's NYTimes insisting on wholehearted acceptance by Dems of Senate bill
    is just plain scary.

    He's obviously tone deaf about the implications  regarding the excise tax and heavy hit on middle class.

    The Democrats will go down unless they can seriously modify this bill amd remove the most repulsive parts.  No one mentions the end run on women's rights in both bills that infringes on the right to equal protection and free choice. Both Nelson and Stupak have been allowed to attack choice and use women for political cover.

    If anyone listens to Krugman they can kiss Union and many Independents votes goodbye.