I’m an Obot. I think he’s a better president than Hillary or (the candidate I initially supported) Edwards would have been, and much better than whoever Cornell West and Ralph Nader would support. But this post gets to my concerns about the upper echelons of the Democratic party, more broadly:
This belief that New Deal liberalism is obsolete is combined with a belief that good policy-making is inconsistent with democratic institutions—that you need to rely on policy experts operating in good faith in the best interests of the country, without elbows being joggled by cranky neo-populists or nutty movement conservtives. And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works. These leaders need to be brought into partnership with the US government, and hard-headed, realistic policy crafted, so that the US can continue to be the dominant world power.
Note that a central theme here is that it is above partisanship—that the experts, left alone, will best do their work. When you use that frame, then the health care negotiation makes sense. These negotiations took place not with politicians, but with the large service providers, because those stakeholders are the real experts and will keep us out of distracting, distorting partisanship. It makes sense that we turn to the money center banks as the mechanism for minimizing the contraction—they’re the pros who have risen, through merit and diligence, to their positions.
It’s not about Obama per se. It’s about a political philosophy, an ideology that rejects core Democratic values about the government’s role in protecting the citizenry from powerful private interests.
Our society faces two grave threats, the outright insanity of conservatism and the ostensible reasonableness of “centrist” corporatism. There’s a lot of overlap, obviously, but they aren’t the same thing. I’ve reached the point where the corporatism scares me more, because it apparently has the power to seduce many Democrats.
I also have a bit of a darker view than jayackroyd, I think that industry could have killed a health care bill that was less corporate-friendly. So maybe health care is not the best example here. Yes, a bill with a public option would have been better and more popular. But I don’t think it ever would have been possible to pass one.
Maybe someone with a better understanding of history can enlighten me, but I don’t think the New Deal eschewed the use of corporate or business “experts” in administering the regulatory state. Am I wrong in that?
Neither one in isolation would be that scary, it is the way they interact with each other, each enabling the worst in the other, that is truly frightening. It feels as if we were heading into the irreconcilable conflict of the early 1860s with all the power of Wall St. on the other side.
Or to give it a pre-Halloween theme: we’ve traced the call and it is coming from inside the house; a House which is divided against itself.
Do you mean Democratic politicians? Cause they got seduced a long time ago and are expecting any day now. As for Democratic voters, more and more of them are becoming disenchanted with corporatism every day.
Conservatism scares me a lot more. I see it leading to one thing and one thing only: fascism.
I’m deeply, deeply sympathetic to this critique of relying on corporate experts. But if not them, then who? Congress? Krugman and other policy wonks? The global economy IS complicated – who gets to qualify as being able to understand how it works? I mean this question sincerely.
I mean Democrats too, not just Democratic politicians. I don’t mean all Democrats, but I do mean some.
Doug, Doug Doug.
We proved the value of Corporatism and turning policy over to Technocrats when The Kennedy/Johnson Admins turned over the Pentagon to a MacNamara, recruited from Ford and his Whiz Kids recruited from IBM to micromanage the Vietnam War in the early 60s. What the hell could go wrong with THAT formula?
Oops. Except that Halberstrom guy writing “The Best and the Brightest”
As a dumb ass college kid in the late 70s I thought maybe we had learned a lesson about this shit. No thirty years later I am trapped in the worst kind of acid flashback, the one that didn’t come with a psychedelic experience beforehand. Jeez at least I got some value for money with that Four Way Windowpane and Shrooms back then. Now? The double meaning of ‘Whiz Kidz’ was never so ironic. And warm salty and yellow.
The funny thing is I agree with essentially everything in that post. Except for this:
I’m not sure why he felt the need to cite the healthcare debate, given there an exceedingly pragmatic reason large service providers were involved: because if they didn’t sign off on some kind of deal, they would have spent billions in advertising and lobbying to destroy the legislation.
“Progressive Realist” is redundant. Being progressive, the verb, requires a progressive mindset of what is possible and what is not possible, at any given point in time. It is not an ideology. It is a frame of reference factoring in the point at which you don’t have the votes to get anything more, at that particular point in time. And having a grasp of where the system offers you a choice of some versus the certainty of getting nothing if you go any further.
I agree with you, as I said. It’s not the best example.
I don’t like the health care law example because it ignores the 7 to 15 million (new) poor people covered under that law.
We can’t ignore 7-15 million people.
That was partisan. Republicans would not have done it.
This sounds dangerously close to thoughtful evaluation, which risks disagreement, or, in some frightful development, dissent. If this path is followed for even a single moment, one is disregarding the imminent threat posed by Republicans. Better to keep reminding oneself that no matter what happens, is decided, and who does so, on the Democratic side, we should be extremely cautious about thinking too much about it.
@Carlo: Is there evidence that recent influence by those most influenced by a corporate interest mindset was less rather than more harmful?
@El Cid: how goes the trolling this fine evening?
Villago Delenda Est
Those damn pot smoking DFH types from two centuries ago, the Founding Fathers, were concerned with power imbalances. That’s why you have three branches of government, designed to check and balance each other.
The Mammon worshiping Ferengi in this society are totally out of control, and the one thing that can balance the corporate pirates is government. The Founders would thoroughly approve of checks and balances between the public government and the private governments that are corporations. Over the last 30 years that has been totally forgotten by our elites.
They’re in danger of losing the Mandate of Heaven, and their heads.
@Carlo: actually you kind of have a point, given the vast bulk of Congress are literal half-wits.
Having said that, it is unclear to me why the focus is on “experts” from conservative, upper-crust, corporate America. You mention Krugman. Sounds great to me. Maybe the real problem is where the experts are coming from, not the fact there is too much use of experts.
Ozymandias, King of Ants
And I do seem to remember that when I first encountered the word “technocrat” it seemed to be always used as pejorative.
This statement is mind boggling stupid. The majority of the mutual funds don’t outperform a simple buy and hold of broad market indexes strategy.
Oh, And if the bankers were so damn smart we’d not have had the financial crisis as they’d not have bought trillions of dollars of securities that were worthless or trillions of dollars of bonds that took haircuts of 50% or more.
Anyone who holds this idea that the elite have earned their place are just trying to validate their own egos. The elite is made up of people who had people who had three things going for them: good luck, avoiding bad luck, and being born a white male.
If you’ve ever been exposed to upper middle management of any fortune 500 company the bad managers out number the people who have a clue.
Villago Delenda Est
FDR recruited Joseph Kennedy to head the SEC for the reason that it takes a crook to catch a crook.
@taylormattd: Maybe you’re experienced in this.
I tend to pay more attention to decades of empirical research on the systematic subservience of the democratic system to a fairly coherent economic and social upper class when it comes to analyzing why the two political parties tend to have the policy preferences they have. A matter which is crucial, though not perfectly determinative, and yet which is generally preferred to be discussed exclusively with regard to one of the two political parties, that party which is more enthusiastically subservient.
I think that was meant as semi-snark. Hard to describe, but I think I know what he is trying to say.
@El Cid: Well let’s all just shoot ourselves in the head then.
Like just about everyone else you miss the point. The point isn’t that democrats didn’t want a public option or that corporations are able to get what they want blah blah.
The point is voters are dumb and vote these corporate stooges into office in the first place. The ultimate power rests with the voter. It’s all their fault. Especially the people who don’t vote at all. That would be a majority of people of voting age. Blame them.
@taylormattd: That and the fact that many of the “experts” have turned out to be ideological shills. Even disregarding the pervasive intellectual delusions of the Chicago school of economics, there are plenty of smart conservative economists out there who know very well what’s needed but refuse to say so (or will even say the opposite of what they know to be the case) for partisan or ideological reasons or because they know if they don’t the personal money spigot will be turned off. So we also have a bunch of experts who are refusing to deliver their expertise.
@Baud: You are quite correct.
Odie Hugh Manatee
@Bruce Webb: … Four Way Windowpane
Now that’s a blast from the past…lol! I remember some good times with that stuff.
Damned good times. :)
IIRC, FDR and his cabinet brought in a wide range of experts, some of them corporatist in outlook but others not at all.
A prime example of the latter would be Leland Olds who almost single handedly created the regulatory basis for the federal govt’s management of electrical power production, distribution and pricing to the consumer. He was later destroyed by LBJ early in the latter’s career in the US Senate (as a bone thrown to the Texas based oil and gas industry who bankrolled LBJ’s career) because of his Left-wing associations prior to his govt career, in a preview of the Red-baiting tactics which Joe McCarthy would improve upon and perfect.
So maybe the problem with experts today is that the range of opinion and background which they bring to the table is far narrower than that of the much more diverse experts who helped to build FDR’s New Deal.
I think the area where so-called policy expertise has really infected the Democratic leadership is in the way they communicate to the general public. Modern Dems are notoriously bad (with notable exceptions) in talking about their ideas and values in non-wonkish ways.
@Omnes Omnibus: Hemlock?
I’m coincidentally rewatching The Corporation.
Yes, as the wingnuts would remind me, this movie is being streamed to me by a corporation over a corporate IP to a corporate-developed device so I can watch it on my corporation-produced television, etc. But I refuse to believe that the only way to keep these good things is to sell out the rest of the culture to the legal constructs that create them.
The optimist in me thinks that we’re approaching some kind of Magna Carta moment with respect to corporations. But what would the details of that look like? I have no idea.
@taylormattd: Too Athenian.
Is this sort of garbage helpful? Opposing hysterics and magical thinking (in other words, the daily currency of the so-called progressive online left) is not the same as blind support of Obama.
@taylormattd: Absolutely. After all, this is a blog named ‘Balloon Juice,’ where crucial voting decisions are made, and there simply isn’t time for any comments which are indeed rooted in empirical reality yet which, to some readers, fail to sound sufficiently inspirational or cheering.
This! There’s a big difference between a “stakeholder” and an “expert,” especially since, as JWB points out, many of the “experts” relied upon turn out to just be ideological shills, either for the far right or for mushy corporate centrism.
Here’s a link to a left-wing blog post from a couple years ago titled “What Use Are Experts?” that got into some of the same points. The key paragraph (this time relating to foreign policy and the Iraq war),
“the fact is that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others were the epitome of the foreign policy expert. Doug Feith points out in his book, I think correctly, that in fact the Rumsfeld wing of things was smarter and more “expert” than the Colin Powell wing. It just so happens that foreign policy expertise had and has a lot more to do with encyclopedic knowledge of weapons systems, expertise at bureaucratic infighting, and delineation of strategic contingencies in carefully bullet-pointed memos than it has to do with understanding human beings and the world.”
It’s true that you can’t just rely on experts, but it’s also true that our go-to people in the current system seem a lot more like Soviet apparatchiks mouthing Party rhetoric and fighting over turf than like “experts” in any meaningful sense of the word.
@Marc: I don’t know — is this ‘garbage’ helpful? Should I be helpful here? At all times? At some times? What is helpful? Should there be a ratio of my comments between positive suggestions of local action and other expressions?
Do we even have time to wonder how the world is, not simply how it is to the degree it helps us to make electorally-focused decisions, to reconcile apparent reality with the likely realities of political decisionmaking?
Perhaps not. Perhaps there is no reason, no purpose to think about the world, or to research it, in ways which don’t immediately inspire on the ground action.
@Omnes Omnibus: Good point. A bowl full of pills it is, then.
Pure nitrogen atmosphere: Unconscious in 10 seconds. Dead in four minutes. No pain whatsoever. Industrial workers have walked into nitrogen-filled rooms and dropped dead in mid-stride.
Expensive way to go, though. Hermetic chambers aren’t cheap.
We just think you’re full of it and that your relentless attacks on Obama are frequently wrong, poorly reasoned, or both. Less foolish and bitter people, on the other hand, get an actual hearing.
This is a test for you: do you want to actually talk about the post at hand, or instead will it be about how totally excited any criticism of Democrats makes you?
@El Cid: perhaps a rough guide would be, oh, I don’t know, maybe a percentage of your comments less than 100% that don’t vomit out nihilist naderate no-difference-at-all-between-the-parties garbage?
@taylormattd: Sorry, Dorothy Parker said it best:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Mr Stagger Lee
Off Topic alert but tonight’s Real Time with Bill Maher was one of the best.
doesn’t it depend on which or whose experts you use? There are many successful business out there that make things and provide services, lots of different approaches to lots of different problems. The one key that is apparently overlooked (especially by the MBA and University of Phoenix crowd in general) is input from people that actually do the work and customers that actually use the product. Companies that I have worked for that have thrived, seem to remember that the people that use the products and those that help answer the questions about them, intrinsically know more than anyone else how your product works, what it lacks and have ideas on how to do it better. They, in this economy, never seem to get asked. Look at the products that you use everyday that you take for granted now, and the time and trouble that you went through before you found their product and have chosen to never stray from. THOSE are the business models that need to be investigated and emulated.
COULD have? The thing barely squeaked through as it was.
We are going to need much more fundamental change in the levers of power before anything approaching single payer will be possible in this fucked up country: either some kind of major victory by OWS or something else like it — for which I ain’t holding my breath — or more realistically, the success of ACA when it finally gets up and running causing people to wake the fuck up.
@eemom: Understatement, how does it work?
@Marc: I don’t have relentless attacks on Obama. You have no idea what my opinions on Obama are; but I guess you don’t have to, do you? You don’t know if I voted for him, or donated money, or helped drive people to the election, do you?
@taylormattd: There’s a difference between “naderite” ‘no difference’ between the parties, and noting that there are indeed typically huge layers of convergence between the leading parties in nations all over the world.
But you’re both right. Here, in the incredible, crucial world of Balloon Juice, where elections are made or lost, where tens of thousands turn to figure out whether or not they will vote, or for whom to vote, or whether or not tomorrow will be cheerful, full of hope, inspired for greater on-the-ground action, there’s no time for things which sound like helpless cynicism.
You’re right. What the fuck am I doing? How dare I ever sound like this? Why on Earth would I spend even a second talking about stuff?
It’s actually a good question. Why should we think about stuff? Why should we think about who makes decisions, and why?
Is it not enough to know that overall the likelihood of better decisions being made by a Democratic administration and key party leadership is far better than the other party’s similar establishment?
I guess it’s important to preface every statement with appropriately positive recognitions of current leadership, and the limits of what almost everyone says can be done. Otherwise I sound “Naderite” — even if the most class-conscious and class-domination-aware scholars and researchers indicate the clear advantage, overall, for the ordinary person from Democratic leadership.
If I don’t take care to make sure each and every statement is appropriately contextualized to positively inspire support and turnout, I very likely am a “naderite” or aimless cynic or underminer or firebagger.
Yay! Go stuff!
Nah, but you are being kind of a douche.
i use “/Congress” as a little hueristic for telling me if i need to take a criticism of Obama seriously.
i don’t see the word “Congress” in Ackroyd’s post.
party on, meta-warriors.
Is it at least… good stuff?
@Judas Escargot: It’s great stuff! Stuff is great! Go team! We’re all in this together!
I love you too, brother.
@Judas Escargot: We are living in a material world, and he is a material girl. Hmmm…. that doesn’t look quite right. Oh, well.
These pros are mind-boggling stupid as Krugman and Brad deLong keep pointing out. Even on their own terms, which means ignoring the pain inflicted on all us little potential democratic voters, the experts are driving the US economy further into the ditch.
Expert economists cling to their mathematical models which do not allow for negative interest rates. So even though the interest rates on US bonds are barely higher than zero and banks are threatening to CHARGE their customers for depositing large amounts of money, deflation never crosses their minds. Inflation is the giant worry, when a little inflation might help kick start the economy and boost business. Not to worry- things will surely turn around by 2030.
@Omnes Omnibus: Apparently the vast majority of the Universe is composed of invisible dark matter of a non-baryonic nature. Some of us have grown proud of our dark matter nature.
@Peggy: Germany had inflation in the 1920s and look what happened. Damn it. Was this a half-Godwin?
Gosh. I just typed that whole thing out, then thought maybe I’d better read all the comments because I so often duplicate other points in other posts, and deleted it without sending. Glad I did!
@El Cid: If it is invisible, how do you know it is dark? Ha! I’ve run circles around you logically.
It’s as if these clowns never heard of the fallacy of the excluded middle.
@SiubhanDuinne: Copy and paste is your friend.
As a matter of fact, it’s all dark.
@Marc: The what now?
@Omnes Omnibus: It’s not the color which is dark — it’s the mood.
@El Cid: So is it dark like a teenage Goth cutter or like a German Expressionist film?
@Omnes Omnibus: It’s dark like the space left when the good souls know when to leave.
@El Cid: Like a Justin Bieber concert? That’s horrible.
I’m saying that economists are unduly worried about inflation when according to Krugman if the Fed set an inflation target of say 3% the economy would prosper.
The only Godwin I can mention is that the Germans do have a very visceral fear of inflation even when it is not a threat.
The health care negotiations makes sense because there’s no alternative, but nobody could stop fucking the chicken long enough to recognize that.
Look, part of Obama’s job plan is national infrastructure. We here have called for that reliably, without dissent for years. Boiled down, the plan is to shovel money, by way of various layers of government, into companies all over the place in order to build roads and such.
The thinking here is twofold:
1) infrastructure projects are heavily labor intensive, and keep dollars very efficiently in the country
2) real infrastructure improvements have a stimulative effect on the economy.
Why isn’t this viewed as centrist corporatism? Presumably because we can better understand the outcomes and we like those outcomes.
On the healthcare fight, the problem was very different. The problem there was dollars being wasted due to inefficiency and overcharging, particularly of those that could least afford it, and that was having a negative effect on the economy. The problem here is that the leaves of the healthcare system need reform badly. The leaves are where all of those healthcare dollars get absorbed, from drug and equipment companies to doctors and nurses and hospital groups and so on. Some of it is simply greed at that end, some of it is poor utilization, there’s a bunch of problems.
But there’s also the trunk of the healthcare tree which is the insurance companies. Now, because that’s where everyone puts their money, and that’s the front-end of the whole system (and because they’re generally assholes) that’s where everyone puts their energy, but the insurance companies are generally pretty efficient (at least compared to all of those leaves). More importantly, the only way to change the leaves of the system, where the money is really getting wasted in huge amounts, is through the trunk.
We could try and replace that part of the system, but politically that’s a huge failure. Now you have the entire system fighting against you – including the states, who have a vested interest here, and Congress simply can’t overcome that. The negotiations were a crafty solution – rather than try and replace the trunk, the insurers – enlist them. That’s not surrendering to corporate interests, to the industry, or anything of the sort. It’s pitting one half of the system against the other, with the government getting the ability to wield the power it needs to fix half the system, with the option that somewhere down the line they can go after the other half.
The alternative is simply impossible to accomplish. Just as impossible as trying to build infrastructure without contracting through construction companies. But in the case of infrastructure building, we trust the middleman – which is cities and states. In the case of healthcare infrastructure, we don’t trust the middleman – which are insurers. If we didn’t trust the cities and states, that doesn’t make the infrastructure problems go away, nor does Obama and Congress have the ability to replace them. We simply have no path to the solution, and the problem festers. And that’s what healthcare has faced for the last 20 years. There’s simply no path through except through the insurers, but that decision isn’t some handout to the free market, it’s simply how you need to solve a problem that the government has no other solution to, unless you think the government can nationalize the doctors and hospitals.
But the bill that was passed is not ‘corporate friendly’ unless you’re cherry-picking corporations. You’ve got a tension in the existing market, and the bill exploits that by giving a limited boost to one group of corporations in order to extract a MUCH larger benefit for consumers from an entirely different group of corporations. And the key to it, the whole point of the whole exercise, is that one of the largest insurers is Medicare/Medicaid, who gets no corporate gain, and who gets massive benefits as a result. And everyone simply blows past that. Is it worth giving the insurers a little bit of a free pass if it saves Medicare/Medicaid and expands coverage for the public? Yeah, unquestionably, just as it’s worth giving construction companies taxpayer money to put people to work and get roads and bridges built.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his
salaryself-righteousness depends upon his not understanding it.”
@Peggy: I know, dear.
Well, yeah, that isn’t about Obama…because that isn’t Obama’s ideology.
The problem for ideological liberals is that Obama is willing to consider ways to protect the citizenry from powerful private interests that aren’t explicitly liberal–especially when explicitly liberal measures are politically infeasible.
This, for some reason, has a lot of liberals inordinately upset. Well, fuck them, and fuck the horses in on which they rode. Obama is a consequentialist, not an ideologue, and if that’s not good enough for them they can go to hell.
It’s only a free market if you’re free to leave it. That’s a critically important thing to remember, and if you can apply that rule to each part of the economy, you can pretty clearly suss out where the problems areas will be. And corporations know that rule as well. They rely on that rule. They know if they can get into a market that their customers cannot leave, they’re sitting pretty.
Nobody really gives a shit about a capitalistic video game market – if it gets fucked up, who cares. Just don’t participate.
But when it’s critical healthcare, when it’s energy, stuff like that – that’s a different ballgame. When you need it, you need it at any price. That’s not capitalism. That’s effectively being governed by corporation.
NYT’s editorial page is getting kind of snarky:
The whole editorial, on the importance of the Supreme Court in next year’s presidential election, is worth a look through.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Look around you, people. You can’t argue with the pragmatic results of capitulation to capitalists and their swinging moral philosophy of capitalism. Every day, in every way, the world grows more stable, more prosperous, more peaceful, more sustainable, more fair, and more devoid of strife and pain. It will surely never end if we can just re-elect President Obama.
@Omnes Omnibus: I was thinking more of a Pat Boone concert.
@El Cid: The horror…
He can also shoot lasers from his eyes and leap an entire building in a single bound.
I like when people like Tom here just string together random buzzwords to look smart without having any idea what any of them mean. I could just as easily call the President a doctrinaire liberal based on his record and your silly, fapping ass would have no counter because you plainly have no idea what you’re talking about. But you do know you hate and fear the word “ideologue.” So there’s that.
“And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works.”
Sorry, if you can figure out what this quote means, you are a better person than me. Whoever wrote this should take a basic english course and get back to me……wow.
The vertical demand curve is where they get us up against the wall.
This to me hits the nail on the head. Centrist in this country has become a notion that on all issues things need to be split down the middle.
Closer to the truth is the notion that sometimes Democrats are completely right and sometimes Republicans are completely right and applying the centrist perspective of mashing together ideas in a compromise isn’t always for the best.
I’ve noticed a trend in this country where centrists are always complaining about how the partisans on the edges are ruining the debate and this country. But the truth is that for the most part, especially because of the filibuster in the US Senate, it’s the centrists who are running this country and they’re failing miserably.
deleted wrong thread
Any non-masochists here who have been wondering what this Pie Filter thing is need to be informed that it’s there, and it works, and it’s easier to use than it used to be, and after a while its use gets to be a simple response to the most clearly worthless and unimaginative trolls who show up here, and life gets better, if only by a little bit.
But hey, nobody’s holding a gun to your head. Suffer away. People are starving in Somalia, and it’s unfair for you to evade your duty of self-flagellation.
First, my thanks to DougJ for linking to this and starting this conversation.
There are some running themes in comments here. First, “corporatism.” I didn’t use that word, and, in point of fact I hate that word. What I am trying to say (Stuart Zechman lays it out really well here: http://bit.ly/ngQNET. All I have to say on this issue draws heavily on conversations he and I have had.) is that the current Democratic leadership rejects a core value of movement liberalism, of, FTM, Adam Smith liberalism, because they reject the idea that the government’s role includes a responsibility to protect citizens from powerful private interests pursuing monopoly power.
It’s true that FDR’s New Deal and Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal drew on private sector resources to implement their policies. But they did so in service to the citizenry at large, in opposition to the power that the banks and the trusts had accumulated. In full throated opposition:
T. Roosevelt via pourmecoffee
Democratic elites, under various names DLC, Third Way, New Democrats, have rejected this point of view. When Clinton decided that we could trust the bankers whose hatred FDR had welcomed and abolished Glass-Steagall, the democratic leadership moved away from the core New Deal values. The fundamental liberal idea is that the state exists to foster capitalism, and that requires constant vigilance over the tendency to monopoly and abuse of private sector power.
The president, and, more importantly IMO, the Senate Democratic leadership, do not see things that way. They see, as several commenters have noted, the private sector as stakeholders, as part of the governing process, as having, by virtue of their financial stake in the outcome, “suffrage.”
FDR rejected that idea, explicitly, echoing his distant cousin. The government’s role includes the responsibility to protect citizens from private interests that would exploit them, interests that would break their unions, foreclose on their homes, capture their productivity gains.
The current Democratic leadership, the elites in charge of the party, do not believe, any longer, that this is a “realistic” “pragmatic” understanding of how the US government should operate. Instead, we must have, to be “realistic” UAW sons working next to their fathers at half the dads’ wage.
The Onion writers read Eschaton?
@Cat: The ratings agencies are all still in business and the Justice Department isn’t going to investigate how all this shit got AAA ratings — huzzah!
“Inflation is the giant worry, when a little inflation might help kick start the economy and boost business.”
In one of his popular books on economic history J. K. Galbraith had a chapter on economic policy as advocated by all true experts during the Depression. The policy, of course, was to avoid the deadly danger of INFLATION!!
The chapter was titled, “The Threat of the Impossible”.
Well, we know better now. Except, of course, the economic pundits, who after 80 years have learned nothing of use.
But arguably things are even worse than you say. For over a year and a half, the Free Market, which we all know is infallible, if we’re conservatives, has been predicting a 10-year inflation rate of a few percent. Currently, it’s predicting about 2%.
Check it out: 10-year Treasury notes, so-called risk-free, which means that the only real risk is inflation, pay about 2%, a weirdly low rate. And 10-year inflation-protected notes pay about 0% (zero percent). If you think those rates are wrong, you can go out and bet against them in the Free Market, and make lots of money when you turn out to be right. If you have a few billion in capital.
Do you ever wonder what the great leaders of finance do when they’ve finished their anti-inflation gig on TV? Well, you know they are not out placing bets on high inflation. But for some reason, they still warn us about that clear and present and fatal danger.
Now, on why I pointed to the PPACA.
There’s a bunch of background material here.
DougJ reflects other comments that say that a realistic, politically possible approach required a compromise with the private sector stakeholders who hold the legislature hostage.
Do you who hold this view not see the contrast to FDR saying “I welcome their hatred.”? I’m not talking about the ultimate policy outcome. I am talking about the process. Rather than saying “Holy shit! We have the worst health care system in the OECD! We need to fix that.” we said, “How can we keep the current players on board and insure more people?”
You can look to the rest of the OECD and see different good public policy solutions to our health care problems–socialized medicine like the VA and Britain, single payer like Medicare and Canada, closely regulated private insurance like Germany–but none of those solutions include the preservation and subsidy of the current private sector oligopolies. PPACA was designed by, and meant to benefit those who atrios calls the “skimmers.” And that is not good public policy.
DougJ (representatively) says, “Yeah, but we had to pay off the skimmers, or they woulda run commercials and killed the bill anyway.”
I don’t think that’s true.
A good health care bill would have been incredibly popular. You couldn’t run compelling scare ads against Medicare for all, for instance. People look forward to getting free of the uncertainty of private insurance and getting on Medicare. But our Democratic leadership believes that creating such a system will make us uncompetitive in the global labor market. So, we’re looking at raising the Medicare eligibility age.
@Martin: I’m puzzled because no one ever seems to talk about what I think is a pretty important part of the trunk — the cost of medical education and how it chokes off the number of doctors and other medical personnel in the system. Make a shitload of doctors at a lower cost and cost of care goes down. No?
There’s quite a bit of revisionism, omission and speculation in your post Doug.
Since you’ve framed the thread to be present and future oriented, let’s look that way shall we?
The on-going housing market and financial fraud calamity has been and remains a disaster that Obama’s policies have – in many ways – made worse while seeking no remedy, large or small, from the perpetrators of the collapse of the US economy.
Adding insult to injury, Obama himself has stated in various ways and at different times his “sentiment” that although the ruination of the economy by malintended banksters was morally reprehensible, their actions were most likely not criminal. In harmony with his opinion, Obama has spent political capital and untold hours pressuring states’ AGs such as NY’s Schneiderman, DE’s Biden, MA’a Cockley and others to sign-on to the fraud settlement he and Holder have helped shape. Fortunately, these AGs and others have chosen to do what Obama simply won’t – that is to withhold their personal opinion on the legalities while investigating the web of interdependent matters with vigor.
At the heart of the radically different assessments of and approaches to identifying and, as evidence supports, prosecuting crooked banksters is the absolute dependence – or lack thereof – on Wall St financiers’ for their respective political livelihoods. It’s a very straight-forward matter to see that Obama’s child-like dependence on Wall St bankers largesse is the first and second point of consideration he makes when deciding to publicly pooh-pooh the potential liability of banksters and his decisions to bring the full political weight of his title and office to bear on AGs who have chosen to do their jobs integrously.
Now, would Hillary or Edwards or another Democratic President follow the course Obama’s charting? Who knows. However, you can be sure that any GOP President would have or will do exactly as Obama’s done.
To be absolutely clear. Homeowners have lost over $7,000,000,000,000 in wealth due to the housing bubble’s collapse and the frauds that made and unmade it. No matter how you slice it, that’s real money! With that wealth gone, either evaporated or shifted from the shafted to the sheltered (a.k.a. the 1%), normative economic activities have been crippled. The most obvious evidenced of the “brokenness” of the economy is the utter lack of demand across the nation’s retail, hospitality and services industries. The lack of demand is but one arena where Wall St’s massive frauds manifestation as a broken economy.
The sad and distressing fact is that the housing and financial disaster is merely one – though a huge “one” – area where Obama’s been an abject failure. The OWS movement is merely one response to the President’s shameful neglect of the nation – now and into the future.
So, you can weave then burn-down any number of straw men and women you like. Obama is not and will not be running against any of your straw-figures in the general elections. At the end of the day, more and more of our fellow citizens see little difference between Obama and a GOP alternative to him. And there’s no reason to believe Obama will try to distinguish himself from the GOP in any manner. In support of that last statement, I refer you to the words of Obama’s new Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, in an interview with Politico.
Or, if Daley’s own words don’t convince you of the futility of expecting Obama to be “different” than GOPers, take a look at the comment and material linked posted in response to ABL’s aimless rant against Paul Ryan.
In the end, an incumbent whose essentially indistinguishable from his opponent in the generals and who presides over an economy in shambles and unemployment over 9% is simply doomed to 2nd place in a two man race.
Getting back to you:
“And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works.”
The Democratic party elite believes there is a new global economy, and the experts can be found among the executives of successful transnational corporations.
Is that any better for you? I concede that there is some comma failure in the passage you found incomprehensible.
“Centrist in this country has become a notion that on all issues things need to be split down the middle.”
Actually, this is exactly wrong. “Centrism” is about, well, heck, what I wrote down. It’s about substituting technocratic meritocracy for democratic processes, because representative government is not a reliable mechanism for achieving appropriate policy outcomes.
HOWEVER, as we’ve seen, this isn’t so. The technocratic meritocrats suck at designing effective public policy.
Yes! It is mind-bogglingly stupid to say that! And that is just what the centrist Democrats say. Read the fricking pdf.
I was not advocating that point of view. I was explicating it. They’re like the neo-cons. They are detached from reality.
Oh jeezus christ. People are still whining about the public option.
You guys need to buy a new calendar.
@David Koch: Yeah, real health care reform is so early 2009.
I call bullshit on that Politico article. Obama has never even used that term in public. Not once. This alleged conversation sounds like the one Michelle Bachmann claimed to have had when he “mumbled” that he was going to replace Medicare with Obamacare.
The public option would have covered 2-3 million people and would have been a little more expensive so I don’t believe the bill would have been more popular with it. When people hear the break down of the health care bill, the love it.
Can we stop arguing over how the health care bill was passed already? it is here. You either elect a better congress to improve or move on. The bill barely got passed so anyone here thinking it could have been better is in serious denial.
It is time to move on. Vermont used it as an opportunity to pass single payer and Montana Gov is looking to do the same. They have moved on to accomplishing what liberals really wanted but liberals are still bitching about a watered down public option. They could be pushing other Dem governors to do the same but they are still stuck on stupid.
@Martin: That is a sophisticated and interesting analysis. I pray it works out that way.
But I don’t think they had any idea of the economic pit we were in. I don’ think the subsidies will be there in this climate. (So how can there be a mandate?) I think the states will lead on this one. If the insurance system is eliminated one state at a time, it won’t be as disruptive to the economy, which is pretty dicy and likely to remain that way for a while.
As I’ve written here before, this Democratic Party really isn’t. And FDR had an overwhelming advantage over Obama…there was a pool of moral actors to select from. There really were Jimmy Stewarts out there. Not so much any more, is there? Corporate morality is an oxymoron.
“…the outright insanity of conservatism and the ostensible reasonableness of “centrist” corporatism…”
A generation ago what Jay and Stuart are calling “centrism” and what you are calling “centrist corporatism” would have been simply called “conservatism.” Two generations ago, what you are calling “the outright insanity of conservatism” would have been called fascism.
In FDR’s time, the far right of the political spectrum was fascist and the far left was communist; the center was what FDR called liberal. Now the political spectrum is between the Tea Party Republicans–fascist in all but name–and the liberals. Unsurprisingly, then, the center of debate in Congress is what Doug has called “centrist corporatism.”
We had, until recently, lost the far left of the political spectrum. The how and why of this are not entirely clear. The anti-union activism of Reagan and his successors was part of the story, as was the fall of the Soviet Union. Probably also the imperial Presidency; the intense militarism of the Cold War period, which continues to this day; and the consolidation and politicization of the national news media that was enabled by Reagan-era policies also contributed
So a big part of the story was a successful reactionary movement that has emerged into politics as “centrism.”
And now Occupy, enabled by new technology, ideology, and vaguely Gandhian tactics, brings back left anarchism. It’s an astonishing development, and one which I only dimly foresaw. In stated policy Occupy is liberal: at the popular center. But in practice it is pure left anarchist. How this will play out in electoral politics–or if it will play out, or if it will be silenced for years to come–remains to be seen.
Oh, I know, but I committed that one to memory a long time ago.
I just have so many problems with this. Leaving out the entire administrative section of government is just crazy.
First, FDR created the alphabet agencies. The idea was that New Deal legislation was complicated and we would need experts outside Congress to administer the laws and “rule-write”. The experts would work in agencies and the agencies would span administrations and be apart from political fads. If we want to know where the idea of “experts” came from, that’s where it came from: FDR.
Sebelius was in on the health care law formation because she is responsible for the agency that will have to administer it. It wasn’t just “industry experts”. It was government and public policy experts. She’s an expert because she was the governor of Kansas and insurance commissioner. Do I want some dumbo in Congress rule-writing on health care? No, I don’t. I want someone who knows the subject, hence, agencies and experts.
Is Donald Berwick one of the “experts” we’re objecting to? Because he’s been a quality care and patient’s rights advocate his entire career. He administers Medicaid and Medicare.
I’m as concerned as anyone over industry capture of government, and I absolutely agree that Bill Gates shouldn’t be directing education policy, but let’s not go nuts with slamming “experts”, and hoping for “politicians”, because the modern welfare state we’re all so attached to is designed around “experts”.
Agencies are supposed to be above partisan concerns. Outside the political appointee head of the agency, agencies are supposed to provide continuity and expertise on federal administrative functions, and the federal health care law that came out of Congress is just the beginning of that process. Congress writes the outlines and “experts” write the rules that administer the outline. That’s how it works. That’s the modern welfare state that FDR created. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, and insist on a purely Congressional democratic process in the formation of law, because people in Congress actually aren’t experts.
Thinking it over, I think I see the short-term triumph of centrism. Occupy has already shifted the terms of debate far enough that the radical right looks less credible and I think this will tell in the 2012 elections. But I do not see actual liberal, or even a bit further left, policies being adopted at the Federal level for some years to come. I’ve been predicting 2020 as the watershed year and this still seems not implausible: it will take time to raise a new generation of liberal politicians and bring the Supreme Court back to the true center. But just possibly it will be faster: if the Obama administration, like that of LBJ, decides that it is best to side with the reformers. On the other hand, it could also be slower: the reactionaries are deeply entrenched and very wealthy.
How do we shift the balance? Can we?
Only this: Republicans are the Destroyers and Dems are Enablers. We need national therapy.
Notice how all the emphasis, even from the Dem side, is about creating jobs in the “private sector” – this is all I hear, coming in behind cutting fucking taxes.
What fucking private sector?! Let’s see, you lay off thousands and thousands of public sector employees, unemployment doesn’t improve (WHO KNEW??) but we need to create jobs in the Holiest of Holies, The Private Sector!! We just need to get out of their way!
One way is for government to invest in projects and hire private contractors but that would involve government so that is bad!
So Tax Cuts for Corporations is the Answer! – if Dems weren’t being pressured from the left, they would acquiesce to this shit and allow republicans to complete their Destruction of the Economy. Tell me I’m wrong and why. So I’m glad we’ve moved on from demonizing and ridiculing the left, right?
@kay: The subversion of civil service in the regulatory agencies is a big factor in our disfunction. (Look at what the SEC did in shredding all the casework on investigations they decided not to prosecute.)
The cynical appointment of agency heads designed to neutralize the function of the office. And a lot of the upper staff were given unfireable civil service grades so they could continue the sabotage.
Maybe Current TV should start replaying/re-inacting the speeches of the Roosevelt cousins in prime time. An amazing number of our young people have never heard such wild ideas!!!
Right, mino, I know that, but be careful where you’re going with this because there is nothing libertarians and conservatives would like better than to get rid of the whole administrative function of government. With three page laws we don’t need agencies!
Liberals invented it. We “live in the house that FDR built”. If it’s broken (and I think it is) we have to fix it. But let’s not insist on pure democratic law-making, because we can’t run a modern welfare state through Congress and the President. It won’t work. They’re not experts.
It reminds me of the commerce clause. It’s okay for liberals to think any law is an over-reach under the commerce clause, but don’t get carried away, because liberals need that commerce clause reach, and conservative don’t.
Be careful what you wish for.
“Agency capture” is an old problem, and it’s one of the hazards of the modern administrative state.
It’s bad, but it’s not new.
@kay: Oh, no, you misunderstand me. A big segment of the somewhat-intact middle class is in civil service.
I just want to see some malfeasance charges filed. Make those f*ckers defend in court the shennanigans they played. Union Pacific derailed a chlorine car in SA in 2004, and the cloud killed/injured people while the Federal agency head went on vacation with the RR bosses. In fact, UP, the designated carrier for hazardous material, derailed 21 times that year in San Antonio. Impressive, no?
Holy shit. What a completely moronic and mind-numbingly out-of-touch-with-reality thing to say.
I mean, you had some good and thoughtful observations to make in your long comment (particularly in that paragraph about the $7T lost in the burst housing bubble, although consumer demand was up significantly in the last quarter. Still anemic, though).
But “little difference” between Obama and Perry or Romney or Cain or Gingrich or Bachmann or Santorum or Huntsman (I think I’ve listed all those who are running to be “the GOP alternative to him”)?
That’s your ultimate conclusion, and it’s such a seriously fucked up and stupid one it should be laughed out of the room.
As bad as the Naderite “no difference between Gore and Bush, and Gore might even be worse”.
I think that Doug hit on something real, while Jay is clearly a fool who is making up stories about the motives of the president – Jay doesn’t like the man, so he must be ill-intentioned.
The nonsense about health care reform at comment 87 captures perfectly the mindset of the Obama-hating left. Congress isn’t a player at all; the magic way to get a larger program is not specified; the idea that a smaller program can get expanded is ignored. It’s all conspiracy theories and magical thinking. (No, there were not the votes for eliminating the filibuster. No, there were not the votes – even a majority – for the sort of health care program that the manic progressives wanted.)
It’s not that New Deal liberalism is obsolete. It’s that it is not the 1930s. There is a stupid core of liberals who much like a stupid core of conservatives, believe that if you can replicate the past, you can solve contemporary problems.
@Marc: “Jay doesn’t like the man, so he must be ill-intentioned.”
For me, personally, it went the other way around. I started out at least hopeful that Obama would do at least a decent job, and became more and more disgusted as his term went on.
It is not ad hominem to disagree with someone’s policies and ideas.
@Brachiator: I don’t see why many of the solutions to the similar problems would not work. Explain, please, how economic stimulus has become less relevant now than in 1932.
@Brachiator: Well, the ones replicating what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years are not havings such a success, either. In fact, they have managed to replicate the Depression, no?
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to a healthy recovery.
The Roosevelts were blood thirsty jingoists.
I seem to be the only one on this thread who objects to — or even noticed — the final clause of this sentence. I don’t think the goal of the U.S. should be to be (or continue as) the “dominant” world power. I would be perfectly happy to live in a country that wasn’t dominating everyone else, as long as what it was doing was to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” And taking an appropriate place among other nations. I don’t object to experts; I object to both expertise and ignorance in service to imperial ambition.
@Brachiator: Other than the fact that we now have an entire party more devoted to destroying their opponents than helping the country using senatorial procedural tactics exactly what about New Deal style stimulus wouldn’t work in the modern day? Bridge building, road repair, general infrastructure revitalization… have these suddenly fixed themselves since the last time I had to reroute a trip to the Twin Cities because a major bridge collapsed?
( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )
( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )
( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )
( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )
As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.
The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.
They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.
For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.
This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.
Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.
Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.
Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.
Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.
Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.
This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!
If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.
Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.
We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.
ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.
Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.
President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.
Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.
We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.
Spread the word people.
Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.
God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.
See you on the battle field.
jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)