The Most Progressive Legislation In 40 Years, Cont'd

Matt Yglesias after the passage of the health bill in March:

For the past 65-70 years—and especially for the past 30 years since the end of the civil rights argument—American politics has been dominated by controversy over the size and scope of the welfare state. Today, that argument is largely over with liberals having largely won. [. . .] Due to the bill’s almost comically delayed implementation, for several years we’re still going to have a lot of political tussling over it. And even once it’s in place, the system will continue to be debated and tweaked for years to come. But over time, I think American politics will come to look quite different and we’ll look back on this day as a turning point.

(Emphasis supplied.) Kevin Drum today:

Apparently [the insurance companies] wanted the uninsured trussed up and delivered to their doorsteps wallet first, but without any actual obligation on their part to provide decent service in return. And they know just how to get their wish: "The industry would love to have a Republican Congress," says Wendell Potter, a former Cigna insurance executive. "They were very, very successful during the years of Republican domination in Washington." [. . . T]he insurance companies are massively funding Republicans this cycle anyway. Why would that be? It's almost as if they're sure that Republicans are just blowing campaign smoke and will support their agenda once they're safely in office. So which do you believe? Republican mouths or insurance industry money? Decisions, decisions.....

So has the fight for a progressive federal government largely been won, as Yglesias argues? Or will the insurance companies completely get their way over time? Put me in the pessimist camp. Previous posts on this issue here, here and here.

Speaking for me only

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    It isn't just the uninsured who are (5.00 / 11) (#2)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:26:37 PM EST
    being trussed up and delivered to insurance companies wallet-first - it's also the already-insured, who are seeing their premiums continue to rise, their cost-sharing go up and their coverage reduced.

    Quite honestly, as much as I think a Republican Congress wouldn't hesitate to wipe out whatever regulatory, not-insurance-industry-friendly elements were/are contained in the Act, I don't have a whole lot of confidence that Democrats, won't over time, do the same thing - only they will frame it differently to make it seem like they are doing us a favor.

    Here's a question: what will Obama do if a Republican Congress - aided by Blue Dogs - further weakens an already weak law?  Do we have a symbolic veto that is overridden while Obama looks on with a shrug and tells us he did the best he could?

    And suppose the Dems do manage to hang onto Congress by their fingernails - does anyone think the insurance and drug companies are just going to go away, and not continue to lobby for what they want?  And does anyone think that over time, the Dems won't give in?

    "Most progressive legislation in a generation?"  Um, not hardly - more like the most f'ed up, clusterf*ck piece of legislation in generations.

    Liberals won? Harharharhar!!! (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Jacob Freeze on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:29:32 PM EST
    From BTD's link...

    In practice, the United States will still be a small government country compared to Sweden or Denmark or France (which combines Danish-style taxes with a below-the-waterline iceberg of hidden state-directed economic activity), but not compared to the United Kingdom or Spain.

    Matt Yglesias celebrated the passage of a "healthcare reform" package with no public option with the fantastic claim that now the US is a "big government" country compared to the UK and Spain.

    Somebody should introduce that guy to Wikipedia!

    Healthcare in England is mainly provided by England's public health service, the National Health Service, that provides healthcare to all permanent residents of the United Kingdom that is free at the point of use and paid for from general taxation.

    And since Spain also enjoys healthcare that's free at the point of use and paid for from general taxation...

    It's hard to understand how Matt Yglersias can conclude that liberals have won the battle of big government with what Markos Moulitsas called Obama's "t-rd" of a healthcare bill, which not only isn't "free at the point of use and paid for from general taxation..."

    There no public option whatsoever in that t-rd!

    No surprises here. (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:49:20 PM EST
    I knew it was a bad bill and should never have been passed in the first place but we had...had...had!!! to just pass a bill. On hindsight, I ended up being more right than I ever imagined but if "progressives" won't listen to people who have experience in the insurance industry then they are not going to listen to anyone. It would be better to just scrap this bill and start from scratch because the bones of the bill are so bad that it is ripe for abuse by the insurance companies. This is what comes of letting them come to the table because you are too freaking afraid to fight them.

    The only good that can come out of all this is that people are going to hate the health insurance companies even more than they do now.

    As I recall, big pharma and insurance (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:53:30 PM EST
    industry struck deals at the White House prior to drafting of any legislation. A table, of sorts, I guess.  

    He was (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:00:42 PM EST
    afraid to leave them out IMO. They might run Harry and Louise ads or something but in the end they got what they wanted anyway.

    I think they got what they wanted in (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:04:17 PM EST
    the beginning.

    And we (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by dead dancer on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:22:57 PM EST
    are the ones that got it in the end.

    Sad but true


    Deal with hopital lobbyists on public option (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:16:01 PM EST
    On August 13th, David Kirkpatrick reported in the New York Times that contrary to public perception, President Obama was playing a much bigger role in shaping the health care bill. In meetings with Senator Max Baucus and lobbyists from Pharma, the White House was able to get their support for reform -- using Baucus' Finance Committee as a framework for the ultimate legislation.

    "Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals," he wrote, "said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan [my emphasis]." Kirkpatrick went on to quote one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, who said: "We have an agreement with the White House that I'm very confident will be seen all the way through conference." link

    Wonk Room:

    In his book, Daschle reveals that after the Senate Finance Committee and the White House convinced hospitals to to accept $155 billion in payment reductions over ten years on July 8, the hospitals and Democrats operated under two "working assumptions." "One was that the Senate would aim for health coverage of at least 94 percent of Americans," Daschle writes. "The other was that it would contain no public health plan," which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.

    How naive was Obama... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:43:16 PM EST
    ...to think his backroom deal with Big Med was worth anything? Of course, Obama is a conservative guy in many respects, IMO, and while I might think he was happy in certain ways to have progressive elements kept out of the bill, I still can't help feeling like he is sitting in the White House realizing that, in the words of comic Lisa Lampanelli, Big Med banged him harder than a dinner bell on the Ponderosa.  Pardon my French, my crudity, my cru de tet.

    When you draft such unstable legislation of this sort, um, what the phuck do you expect the big players to do? Not play?

    Wake up.

    I don't think he was naive in the slightest (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by smott on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 04:12:04 PM EST
    He's not stupid and he gave his benefactors exactly what they wanted,  hiding it from the public while claiming Transparency.

    Big Med isn't banging him. It's banging us. And IMO that was AOK by Obama from jump street.  


    He was the insurance industry (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by observed on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 04:34:05 PM EST
    plant in IL. before. There's no surprise at all.

    I'm not quite as cynical as you (none / 0) (#21)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:02:25 PM EST
    perhaps I'M naive. i think he thought he got a lot more than he did. if he's really their literal plant in the white house, well, they woulda done a lot better than the mess that resulted.

    obama has a pleaser's personality. he wants to make everyone happy and in the process makes a whole lot of nothing.


    He's more of a dupe than a plant. (none / 0) (#29)
    by observed on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 06:57:44 AM EST
    Obama's an easy read, and not very bright on economic matters---he was a perfect mark to be President.

    Did Obama believe he'd have a "gentleman's (none / 0) (#26)
    by jawbone on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:17:26 PM EST
    agreement" with all those "savvy businessmen"?



    I find this inspiring actually (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lilburro on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 03:08:54 PM EST
    a classic Republican conflict.  I assume the desired policy endgame is that everyone will be mandated to buy unregulated insurance across state lines?

    "Real world" (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:17:38 PM EST
    But if you went back and asked Carter in the 70s or Clinton in the 80s whether something like this would be possible in their lifetimes, they'd have laughed back the emergency room.

    Why is that?  Obama's plan is basically the Republican plan of '93.

    What the dems achieved was downright magical.

    Please, .... please stop ........ can't breathe.  Must ......... stop .....

    ....... laughing ....

    BTW - Congrats to your friend on not having to go through "a lot of trouble" to get his adopted baby insured, and on saving money. I have a friend who's premiums just increased by 26%.  The good news is, if things keep going the way they are, she might be eligible for that expanded Medicaid coverage in the bill.  Provided, of course ...

    ... it actually gets funded.

    "Real world", indeed.

    Nail, meet head. (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Romberry on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:12:26 PM EST
    Why is that?  Obama's plan is basically the Republican plan of '93.

    Exactly. And that Republican plan of 93 was considered to be so bad that it was rejected by Clinton and the Dems who looked at it and realized that no reform was better than bad reform.

    This bill, at its base, is simply a legal requirement for Americans to provide money to private for-profit corporations. It nibbles around the edges on a few issues, but ultimately it cements our awful health care system into place. It's not a step forward, it's cement boots to keep us from stepping forward. A truly terrible bill overall, effectively worse than nothing...especially in light of the fact that the economy is still in the crapper and broadly measured U6 unemployment remains at around 17(!) percent.

    The whole health care bill fiasco and what it revealed about the so-called "Democratic Party" was the beginning of the end for me. This is not the Democratic Party of FDR and the New Deal. This is the Democratic Party that is on many issues to the right of Reagan, and I want no part of them.


    Oh Come On (3.50 / 2) (#14)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 05:50:17 PM EST
    What the dems achieved was downright magical.

    Did the insurance companies benefit to some degree? Yes. Is it perfect? No.

    But if you went back and asked Carter in the 70s or Clinton in the 80s whether something like this would be possible in their lifetimes, they'd have laughed back the emergency room.

    This kind of stuff makes me angrier than usual. We should be out there talking about all of the concrete wonderful things it does. I have a friend that adopted a baby and couldn't get him insured last year without a lot of trouble.

    Now he can and it's saving him money. Real world impacts.

    Where is the perspective of history? Yglesias point is validated by the discussion you see here.  This was a huge turning point.  

    Magical - Sure (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:12:41 PM EST
    A whole lot of slight of hand and smoke and mirrors.

    Good affordable, universal health care. No


    I think you should change your (5.00 / 6) (#25)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:00:53 PM EST
    screen name to "Tinkerbell," because your comments glitter with all the fairy dust your pom-poms sprinkle about.  

    "Magical?"  Seriously?  I'm sorry - I just cannot make the connection between this hideous legislation and anything resembling magic.  Well, unless you're talking about the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't-but-let's-pretend-we-do utter bamboozle perpetrated upon us - is that where the magic is?

    As for Clinton, he's been a huge disappointment.  Huge.  Mainly because he of all people should have recognized the Obama plan for the warmed-over GOP plan of 1993 that it is - the one he refused to consider then because it was so bad.  I am seriously coming to detest these former politicians who choose party loyalty over speaking out against bad policy - it's very hard to move to a better place when people like Clinton are cheerleading for a disaster they know is coming.

    The one thing I know without question is the fix was in on this from the beginning - all the rest of it was kabuki - and we never stood a chance.  Just like I don't think we stand a snowball's chance of stopping the Campaign to Make Cat Food A Regular Part of The American Diet.

    Am I glad that someone, anyone, is having an easier time of getting insurance - not care, mind you, but insurance?  Sure - but that doesn't make up for all those - and there are so, so many - who are paying more and more, getting less and less - and having to deal with people like you who think it is Obama who is the most important part of this, that Democratic rule is the most important part of this, and we should all just put on our happy faces - well, it's just plucking on my last nerve.

    I've really just kind of had it with the cheerleading and the fairy dust.


    TY (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by dead dancer on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:32:53 PM EST
    for an excellent response.

    We keep getting less and less while we work longer and harder. But why such a glass half empty outlook.
    I should change my attitude - after all I am getting more and more screwed.


    To: AngryBlackGuy...this is a tough audience (none / 0) (#23)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:52:00 PM EST
    As a person who realizes how far we've come, I'm with you on the comment above, ABG. As a matter of fact, you might find the NPR interview tonight with Senator Russ Feingold--wherein he speaks with praise & kudos for the advances made under this President in health reform (specifically noting how noone has been able to make any progress heretofore)--quite instructive.

    But, for those of your & my approach on this issue, it is more than difficult to have a NEW conversation here on this subject. The lines--in positions and words--have been set for some while. Good luck to you; and, I'll let it go at that.


    Excuse me: Read PBS (rather than NPR) (none / 0) (#24)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:52:50 PM EST
    Yes and Yes. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dan the Man on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:15:06 PM EST

    Well, we have the most progressive (none / 0) (#9)
    by observed on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:25:08 PM EST
    DC bloggers in at least 80 years. From a historical perspective, that's a very important edge for enacting Obama's progressive agenda.

    I mean really (none / 0) (#15)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 05:54:47 PM EST
    Nothing is concrete. There is no law that can't be reversed by a later congress.

    Why is it shocking that healthcare is in danger?  We're trying to reverse DOMA and a bunch of other legislation. The fight is eternal.  There is no end.

    That's why the "I am sitting this election out because Obama didn't give me the public option and instant repeal of DADT and flying pigs and mountains made of sugar" stuff is ridiculous.

    This is bigger than proving some point to a dem you don't like because the plan isn't perfect.  This is about holding the fort against a common foe.  

    Liberals are absolutely freaking horrible at that for some reason. We're too smart for our own good.

    The problem (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:04:26 PM EST
    isn't that it's not perfect. The problem is that it's bad and ripe for abuse and the GOP is already looking to put the screws to everybody by keeping the mandate and taking out everything else. It is going to become the insurance slavery act. If we had passed no bill, then we wouldn't be looking at this problem would we?

    Obama is defending DOMA in court is he not?

    People would be fighting to defend it if it was a good bill. As it is, no one cares if it goes down in flames.


    Well (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:38:10 PM EST
    That was my point actually, and that the the health bill was not enacted in a way that will help it become more progressive or even remain as progressive as it is now.

    Your miracle will become a card trick I fear.

    BTW, glad to see you coming back to mix it up. You contributions are very welcome.


    It's a political party (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 08:39:31 AM EST
    Liberals think they have been jerked around a little bit.  And they obviously have.  You mock not getting the public option as "flying pigs" but clearly it was used to rally support and interest from the Left with no actual intention of implementing it.  And yet the entire time this was happening Obama's loudest supporters were screaming that this was not the case.  And now you're telling us it wasn't important.

    The problem is that the Left took a position, Obama pretended he held the same position, and yet actually did not.  He should be held accountable in some way for that, or at least admit that happened.  Of course, he doesn't, and still presents himself (to us) as the Leftest of the Left.  You're telling us we are just supposed to soldier on and get constantly co-opted.  And the funny thing is that most of this type of advice is coming from people who are still p*ssed that they got triangulated by Bill Clinton.  Hello!


    See response ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:20:10 PM EST
    ... below.