How The Lame Duck Session Moved The Overton Window To The Right
If the health bill leads to a revolutionary reform of health insurance and health care delivery in the United States, history will consider Barack Obama to have been a very successful President. That's how history works. (I'm of the opinion that the health bill, while progressive in some aspects, such as expansion of Medicaid coverage, is not meaningful reform and does not contain elements that will lead to reform (I'm no fan of the exchanges.))
But the issues I care about the most right now - economic growth, the foreclosure crisis and income inequality, were not addressed adequately in the first two years of the Obama Administration and almost certainly won't be in the next two years, And indeed, to read the year end stories about the Lame Duck session of Congress, it is amazing how the Overton Window has moved well to the Right in the first two years of the Obama Presidency. Take, for example,TPM's Brian Beutler's listing of winners and losers of the Lame Duck session:
Here's a list of the lame duck's big winners to help you sort it all out.
1. Barack Obama: The President didn't get everything he wanted out of the lame duck. Most notably he didn't get an omnibus spending bill, which would have helped him implement the health care law, and he didn't get the DREAM act, which remains a top priority for Democrats. But even if you just count the big items -- his tax cut plan, START, Don't Ask/Don't Tell repeal, and the 9/11 first responders bill -- he walked away with a lot.
(Emphasis supplied.) Stop for a moment and consider this paragraph carefully. the President got nothing on spending in the next fiscal year, leaving it vulnerable to massive slashing by the GOP, he did get, an amazing achievement apparently, extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Other big "achievements" were passage of a noncontroversial START treaty (controversial only because the GOP decided to fight even nonc0ntroversial issues to throw red meat to their base and a noncontroversial (at least it used to be) 9/11 first responders health bill (a bill whose merits, from what I could tell, was a noun a verb and 9/11.)
This amounts to winning for Democrats these days. To me that says it all. Progressives can not win when winning is defined on these terms.
Indeed, Beutler defines Bernie Sanders, who lost on EVERY issue, as a winner too. Here's Beutler's thinking:
5. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Though the Senate's most progressive member couldn't actually derail the President's tax cut compromise and swap it out with something less friendly to the wealthy, Sanders made a name for himself: Filibernie. For 10 straight hours he held the Senate floor, to remind voters and people in the media how deferential the government is to the wealthy.
A win for progressives now amounts to being able to make a speech. (Important caveat: DADT repeal is a real progressive achievement.)
That is how the middle has been defined in the Obama Era - conservative policies get enacted, progressives get to make speeches protesting conservative policies.
Isn't it wonderful? Why aren't you celebrating, you progressive ingrate!
Speaking for me only
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