Saturday, July 24, 2010

Which side are you on? #4, or Footnote to the preceding two

Updated I wanted to add that I find that "expected list of supposed accomplishments" I mentioned below - which consisted of the Lilly Ledbetter act, the "stimulus," the health care bill, and financial "reform" - not particularly persuasive. For the greatest part, those results had little to do with Obama and far more to do with the press of circumstances or accidents of timing.

The Lilly Ledbetter Act, for example, had been passed by the House in 2008 but was blocked in the Senate by a filibuster. Everyone knew it would pass in 2009. The only thing Obama did was not veto it. Which is good, but he didn't have a damn thing to do with getting it passed and calling it an Obama achievement is like calling the moon landing a Richard Nixon achievement because he was president when it happened.

Health care "reform" is a particular sore spot with me. As any consistent reader of Lotus knows, I opposed the bill that finally came out because it is inadequate, cements in place the power of the health insurance industry, and forestalls any actual reform for at least 10 years - at which time, even the most enthusiastic proponents admit, there will still be at least 18 million people without coverage (at least 23 million according to Physicians for a National Health Program). But even if you like it, I don't see how it's an "Obama achievement." He was virtually AWOL on the issue until the very last minute when it became obvious something was going to pass, AWOL to the point of letting Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, and Olympia Snowe control the debate. Or, more exactly, AWOL except for the secret deals he cut with the pharmaceutical and hospital industries at the outset to protect their interests even as they harmed the interests of consumers.

(On the other hand, there is one thing that can legitimately be called an Obama achievement here: The law sets up high-risk pools to provide interim coverage for people ineligible for regular health insurance due to pre-existing conditions until the exchanges go into effect in 2014. The administration has issued rules imposing a total ban on abortion coverage in those high-risk pools even though nothing in the law requires that.)

As for financial "reform," the collapse of the financial industry made moves in that direction inevitable and politically unavoidable and what good, if any, came out of that reform had a hell of a lot more to do with Chris Dodd and Barney Frank than it did with Barack Obama. Again, Obama was largely AWOL until the very end; about the only thing Obama did was not veto anything. Assuming the bill does actually accomplish anything meaningful in reality rather than in sound bytes - which is a very problematical assertion at the least - it still can't be called an Obama accomplishment.

The only thing on that list that could be called in any sense an Obama accomplishment would be the stimulus: He did help push that along. And it's quite true that things would likely be worse than they are had there been no such stimulus. But "woulda been worse" is a pretty damn low bar to get over and liberal go-to guy Paul Krugman has been arguing (correctly) for well over a year that the stimulus was just too small to be really effective. And now, it appears, the Obamaites are abandoning stimulus in favor of austerity and are setting the stage (with a stacked commission) for making cuts in Social Security. So if you want to chalk that up to him, go right ahead although why any fan of his would want to mystifies me.

I said it below, I'll say it again: These people are not on our side. And, quite bluntly, if you stand with them, then you aren't, either.

Updated with a couple of links and the info about banning high-risk pool coverage for abortions. Oh, and thanks to Tim at Green Left Global News & Info for the link to the article.

1 comment:

JayV said...

Oh yes, about the Killer (horror) fest in November, as we get closer to the date, we can make tentative arrangements to meet. I have no idea where Foxboro is (all I know is that the Patriots play there). Dunno when we'll drive down from Burlington, but will let you know. Thanks for wanting to meet. - Jay

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