Thursday, August 20, 2009

On healthcare reform insanity

First off, Publius:
It's worth keeping this perspective in mind. Progressives are seeking health coverage reform because we want to help people. It's fundamentally a moral issue. There's no nefarious plot. We just want to help people get coverage, and help them keep coverage. We want to end all the horrible things that happens to people without coverage (or without enough).

That's what's so insane about the hysteria. Do people really think that Obama and the Dems are laughing hysterically about evil government takeovers, etc.? What do these people think the Dems' actual motivations are? I can tell you the real motivation is -- it's simply to help people get affordable health care. That's what motivates me, anyway. It sounds quaint, but it's the whole "make the world a better place" thing.

That said, there are obviously better and worse means to reach these ends. And that's what political debates are for. But the sheer intensity of the hysterical ideological opposition is completely disproportionate to the actual goals. It's like these people really think we're out to destroy the country. And that perception is being fueled by con artists like Lou Dobbs, Chuck Grassley, and Sarah Palin.
And his first commenter echos my exact thoughts as I read this post:
It's like these people really think we're out to destroy the country.

yes, they actually think that - at least that's what we have to believe if we take their word for it. i don't know if the GOP pols think that, and i think it's obvious that a lot of pundits are just demagoging. but the GOP rank and file, the people who have pushed Glenn Beck's ratings through the roof, all of my wife's older relatives, the guy down the road who paints huge anti-Obama signs and sticks them in his front lawn, the people who show up at town halls and cry that their country is being destroyed ? yeah, i think they believe it. and they're terrified of it. they're insane, but terrified.

Posted by: cleek | August 19, 2009 at 04:20 PM
I don't know where "cleek" is from, but down here in Texas, they're not only insane and terrified, they're armed to the teeth! Next up, James Fallows (emphasis mine):
We wouldn't be talking about Elizabeth McCaughey's distortions if the Obama administration hadn't turned out to be strangely inept in the selling of its policy positions (not just health care, something similar happened with TARP, even affirmative action during Sotomayor's confirmation, and it's only a matter of time before the GOP takes aim at other issues).

For the life of me, I can't understand why they can't personalize these issues (the way successful presidents always do). Who are his opponents? They're the pigs protecting the trough. Done. Who can't understand that? But no--instead we'll get discussions about a plan which doesn't exist followed by outrage over distortions.
Fallows calls this "Administration Clumsiness" but Greenwald has a somewhat more sinister and cynical view:
"...Negotiating health care reform with politicians who oppose health care reform doesn't make sense. Negotiating reform with politicians who've vowed to vote against reform under any circumstances is insane."

That's obviously true. In fact, it's so obviously true that no matter how dumb one might think Democrats are, they're certainly not so dumb that they failed to realize that the GOP was highly unlikely to help Obama pass health care reform no matter what the bill contained. From the start, it's been obvious to everyone -- the Obama White House and Senate Democrats included -- that the GOP would not help Obama pass health care reform. Why would the GOP want to help Obama achieve one of his most important and politically profitable goals? Of course they were going to try to sabotage the entire project and would oppose health care reform no matter what form it took. Everyone knew that from the start for exactly the reason that it was so obvious to Benen.

The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill. But -- given the impossibility of achieving that goal -- isn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along.

The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).


Mike Thomas said...

I think Greenwald is just being cynical and pessimistic, but that's just him.
I trust that Obama will get health care reform done in the end, just like he has been saying.

AnnPW said...

I don't think there's much doubt that some sort of bill will pass. What's in question is how effective the bill will be. Greenwald is certainly cynical and pessimistic, but his attitudes are, unfortunately, substantially grounded in well-documented fact. I wish it weren't so.