Friday, August 21, 2009


I am not alone in attacking the President for walking away from the Public Option!
by Charlie Leck

The furious reactions to my blog of several days ago, President Obama is Sucking Wind, keep rolling on in. Many (meaning dozens) have continued to hammer me for labeling the Obama Presidency a failure as a result of its abandonment of the Public Option in Health Care Reform.

Well, this is just to further let you know that I don’t stand alone in this. There are many progressives in the country who have expressed disappointment, dismay and disdain for President Obama for backing away from one of the most important promises in his campaign. Paul Krugman writes about this in today’s NY Times.

“According to news reports, the Obama administration — which seemed, over the weekend, to be backing away from the “public option” for health insurance — is shocked and surprised at the furious reaction from progressives.

“Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.

“A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.”
And that’s the nub of what I was trying to say in that much criticized blog, from which I am not going to back down. It really is a matter of the style of the Obama Presidency. Obama gave bi-partisanship a try. It didn’t work. No President in recent history has held all the cards that this one holds in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He is not playing those cards well. As a matter of fact, he is playing those cards like a rank amateur.

Now, maybe the President is going to change his wimpy ways. The reaction from the left has been so thorough and determined that the President is feeling his entire term beginning to crumble. He must understand that he is not going to be able to please progressives, moderates, conservatives AND the blooming idiots way over on the far right side of the political spectrum. Even kindergartners in political studies understand that.

Krugman goes on to say:

“And let’s be clear: the supposed alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is a sham. That’s not just my opinion; it’s what the market says: stocks of health insurance companies soared on news that the Gang of Six senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Clearly, investors believe that co-ops would offer little real competition to private insurers.”
And, the President knows this; yet, he has the nerve and gall to propose it as a realistic alternative. Again, to repeat what Howard Dean has said over and over again. “Health care legislation without the public option is NOT health care reform.”

Get that into your silly heads; that is, what President Obama has now proposed is NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT health care reform.

We would be better off dropping the whole matter than accepting this President’s current plan for health care legislation.

Again, get this from Krugman, who is right on the mark in all of this:

“That said, it’s possible to have universal coverage without a public option — several European nations do it — and some who want a public option might be willing to forgo it if they had confidence in the overall health care strategy. Unfortunately, the president’s behavior in office has undermined that confidence.

“On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of 'bending the curve' but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee.”
And here is where our weak President is now – in a valley of conundrum and perpetual fogginess – in the way he deals with his opponents:

“So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

“Now, politics is the art of the possible. Mr. Obama was never going to get everything his supporters wanted.

“But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives
increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line. It seems as if there is nothing Republicans can do that will draw an administration rebuke: Senator Charles E. Grassley feeds the death panel smear, warning that reform will “pull the plug on grandma,” and two days later the White House declares that it’s still committed to working with him.

“It’s hard to avoid the sense that Mr. Obama has wasted months trying to appease people who can’t be appeased, and who take every concession as a sign that he can be rolled.”
George Lakoff, on Alternet, explains what thousands of progressives are now wondering:

“Barack Obama ran the best-organized and best-framed presidential campaign in history. How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so poorly on health care?

“And bad it is: The public option may well be gone. Neither Obama himself nor Senior Advisor David Axelrod even mentioned the public option in their pleas to the nation last Sunday (August 16, 2009). Secretary Sibelius even said it was 'not essential.' Cass Sunstein’s co-author, Richard Thaler, in the Sunday NY Times (August 16, 2009, p. BU 4) called it 'neither necessary nor sufficient.' There has been a major drop in support for the president throughout the country, with angry mobs disrupting town halls and the right wing airing its views with vehemence nonstop on radio and tv all day every day. As the NY Times reports, Organizing for America (the old Obama campaign network) can’t even get its own troops out to work for the President’s proposal.”
Why won’t we work for the plan the President is promoting? Because it is a bad plan – not just a flawed plan, but a seriously bad one.

That’s it folks. That’s what we elected to the Presidency. Unless he wakes up soon, we are doomed to four years of wasted, precious opportunity.

Unfortunately, Lakoff, in the column to which I refer above, builds a strong case in his argument that it is too late to revert now to a plan that will include a public option.

No comments:

Post a Comment