Sunday, October 4, 2009

Being Barack Obama XV

Frank Rich wrote an excellent article,"The Rabbit Ragu Democrats", in the New York Times today where he compares President Obama's campaign reform rhetoric with his present action in the health care debate. As he chronicles a list of inconsistencies with his rhetoric, the actions of other Democrats in Congress and the power of lobbyist to influence reform he writes:

The public is not wrong. The administration’s legislative deals with the pharmaceutical companies were made in back rooms. Business Week reported in early August that the UnitedHealth Group and its fellow insurance giants had already quietly rounded up moderate Democrats in the House to block any public health care option that would compete with them for business. UnitedHealth’s hired Beltway gunslingers include both Elmendorf Strategies and Daschle, a public supporter of the public option who nonetheless does some of his “wink, wink” counseling for UnitedHealth. The company’s in-house lobbyist is a former chief of staff to Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader. Gephardt consults there too.
But the Republicans do not get away with anything either:

But it’s not as if the Republicans now have the public’s back. DeLay may be reduced these days to violating public taste rather than the public trust on “Dancing With the Stars,” but back on Capitol Hill, his successors keep the K Street faith. In their campaign to kill the public option, G.O.P. leaders often cite data from the Lewin Group, a research company, which has projected that 88 million Americans might quit their private insurance plans if given a government alternative. (The Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at the far less earthshaking 10 to 11 million.) Lewin, which repeatedly insists it’s still a nonpartisan outfit, was actually bought by a subsidiary of UnitedHealth in 2007. The Huffington Post reported in August that John Boehner and Eric Cantor — who use Lewin’s findings to scare voters about a “government takeover” of health care — are big recipients of UnitedHealth campaign cash.
Rich ends with this:

This is history that the president still has the power to write. It will be written in the bills he will or won’t sign into law. We can only hope that he learned an important lesson from his stunning failure to secure Olympic gold for his political home of Chicago last week. If the Olympic committee has the audacity to stand up to a lobbyist as powerful as the president of the United States, then surely the president of the United States can stand up to the powerful interests angling to defeat his promise of reform.
President Obama you still have the power to write history. Will you do so, Mr. President?


zorro said...

"If the Olympic committee has the audacity to stand up to a lobbyist as powerful as the president of the United States, then surely the president of the United States can stand up to the powerful interests angling to defeat his promise of reform."

I usually like Frank Rich, but comparing the stakes involved in an American Presidency to the descions the Olympic Committee makes is plain silly. How much will the world change if the current Olympic Committee was forced out and replaced? How long will it be that we will start basing our feelings about Obamas ability to make good choices based on teams he chooses in the World Series or Super Bowl?

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, I understood your point, Zorro. But I think Rich's greater point was not about the Olympics and President Obama but more about the Committee that didn't allow the leader of a great nation state to sway its vote as it appears that the President and other Democrats are perhaps allowing lobbyists in the health care reform debate to sway theirs. I am in complete agreement with your latter statement about "feelings" versus "good decisions." Right on!

septembermom said...

I hope that the President does not let those lobbyists move him in a counterproductive direction when it comes to health care. I hope that the President does get his chance to write history. He can do it.

Judith Ellis said...

Kelly - I love your optimism. I too believe that he can do it. Let's hope he does.

zorro said...

Here's article from Krugman. It points out what Obama is up against.
Its not only lobbiest with money.

Judith Ellis said...

Thanks, Zorro. I'm at the gym working out but I will read it and probably have something to say on later. Thanks, again.

Judith Ellis said...

"Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let’s not even talk about the impeachment saga."

Zorro - You have been making this point for some time. But I do not agree with Krugman likening privatizing Social Security with health care reform. Can you imagine what kind of shape Social Security would be in now? It would be bankrupt or nearly so. Health care reform does not only help those without insurance but it will break the monopoly on health care insurance costs for those currently with it. Insurance rates have risen exponentially while salaries have decreased, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who are losing their jobs every month. Michigan's unemployment rate is 15.2. This hurts!

zorro said...

I think Krugaman's point with the social security is that the democrats did not behave as badly as the Republicans are behaving now. He's pointing out that the Democrats presented logical arguments as to why privitization is a bad idea. The republicans are not arguing against health care logically.
I just think Krugman is closer to the root of the problem. Its not as much about corporate lobbiests as it is about the republicans just wanting political power. Getting health care through would be cake walk if there wasn't a constiuancy of average everyday middleclass Americans who beleive health care is a step towards turning the USA socialist.
It would also be a cake walk if these same people realised that there is a good chance they are members of the middle class because of ideas taken from socialist countries.

Judith Ellis said...

Okay, I can see that about Social Security, Zorro. I think it is so incredibly sinister and unpatriotic the way the majority of Republican leaders are behaving. They are acting actually against the interest of the Amerian people. This is extraodinary. It it this party who during the 2008 Convention tauted banners which read "Country First." The hypocrisy is stunning! I am glad that Krugman addresses the issues honesty here. It's an outrage!

Speaking of being outraged, I caught a brief bit of the documentary "Outrage" about gay politicians and was outraged the way it focused on Governor Crist of Florida (R). They made his wedding last year out to be a farce. I just caught the last 10 minutes or so and didn't like what I saw. I don't know if he's gay or not but to put him out on front street the way this documentary does is scandalous, completely outrageous! It didn't seem to be a particularly partisan documentary; it featured McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey. I appreciate Governor Crist's rather moderate voice.