Friday, January 22. 2010
Glenn Greenwald: Blame the all-powerful left! Buried deep in this is the point I made a couple of days ago. I think it bears repeating (and repeating and repeating):
The main point of the article is the repeated charges, especially by right-wing Democrats like Evan Bayh, that Obama's problem is that he's fallen under the spell of "the furthest left elements" of the Democratic Party. As Greenwald documents, this is based on "exactly nothing" -- other than the idiot repetition of a line that strains credulity even when mouthed by Republicans.
Paul Krugman: Do the Right Thing: At last reckoning, the Democrats still had a majority in the House of Representatives. A majority -- less than the official party majority, but still a majority -- have even voted for a health care bill at least somewhat to the left of the one the Senate voted for 60-39. That bill was in fact so "moderate" that it was approved by Lieberman, Nelson, Bayh, and others who repeatedly held it up. One had hoped that reconciling the two bills would have resulted in one slightly better than the Senate bill, if not as much better as the House bill. But now that the Senate Republicans are free to wreck any bill, that option no longer works. But what would work would be for the House to pass the Senate bill as is, avoiding the need to reconcile versions. All we need for that is for the same Democratic majority to approve the weaker Senate bill as approved the stronger House bill. Do that, and Obama will have something significant to show for all his mealy compromises and uninspired leadership. Do that and the Democrats can claim to have delivered the one thing their base wants more than anything else. Don't do that and all the House Democrats will have to show their base is that they don't have any principles, and America that they don't have any guts. I wouldn't bother lobbying any Republicans on this: all they've shown is that they'd rather break America than let the Democrats get credit for facing up to a major problem. But go after the Democrats with everything you got. Any Democrat who refuses to stand up for this bill doesn't deserve the party's ticket. Or the party doesn't deserve its supporters.
Krugman adds this on his blog:
One more point: although I'd be happy to see the Senate bill passed by the House and signed by Obama -- if served up on a silver platter, he'd at least do that much, wouldn't he? -- it's not at all clear that Obama's habitual rejection of leftist proposals has done him any good. Maybe it's politically determined by the intransigence of the Republicans and the clout of established interests -- the health care industry accounts for about 18% of US GDP, and the finance industry for a bit more, and if you give extra weight for profits over the last 10-20 years you can add to those figures. But genuinely leftist proposals would in many cases have more resonance with more people than those who identify themselves as leftists: they build on a sense of justice and fairness, they hold established interests responsible for their transgressions; they are simpler, they make more sense, and they are more likely to actually work.
To take one example, Obama's hands-off approach to Big Pharma deprived him of using one of biggest, most obvious villains in the health care costs death spiral. (Instead, Billy Tauzin came back at the last minute demanding even more patent extensions, threatening to withdraw his lobby's hitherto useless support.) But there are plenty of more examples: get tougher on the banks, deflect the deficit projection gibberish by raising taxes on the rich, get out of Afghanistan, and scale back the incredible waste that is the US Department of Defense.
Funny thing is that if he actually moved left it wouldn't change the Republicans line one iota. But it would give him something to stand up for.
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