Jonathan Bernstein makes a very good point on the Democratic coalitions of 2007/2008:
One key point that Lemieux doesn’t mention this time: in one sense, this really isn’t about 2009 at all. It’s about 2007 and 2008, when the three leading Democratic presidential candidates converged on essentially the same plan (with Obama famously omitting the individual mandate). That says a lot. It says that none of those three candidates believed that adopting single-payer would have given them a serious edge in a closely contested nomination fight — and that no other candidate was able to leap to the top tier by embracing single-payer. In other words, it tells us that in the world of 2007-2008, at least, the ACA was mainstream within the actual Democratic Party as it was, and single-payer was a fringe position in the actual Democratic Party as it was.
Scott Lemieux on the follow-up
This is right. Presidents have agency, but they lead political coalitions. In a political universe where single payer (or, more plausibly, Swiss health care) was viable, at a minimum it would have to have such powerful support among the Democratic electorate that a major presidential candidate would endorse it. This wouldn’t be enough — given its structure, the median votes in the Senate are almost certain to be well to the right of the Democratic candidate for president, let alone the Democratic primary electorate — but it would be a minimum first step. In the politics of 2008 and 2009, anybody who became a Democratic president was going to pursue comprehensive health care reform of essentially similar shape unless they decided not to pursue it all (which was highly unlikely.) It’s worth noting that the comprehensive health care reform undertaken by a major state with a much more liberal electorate and collection of legislators took a simialr form as well.
And while nobody can prove the counterfactual, I also agree that President Clinton would have signed something virtually identical to the ACA. It’s true that in a context in which every single one of the maximum number of votes in the Senate available in a very narrow window was necessary, there’s far more risk of a catastrophic downside
The key thing to remember is 217-60-1-5 in the universe as it is was in 2009-2010. (would be 218 but there were vacancies in the House)
Those are the numbers of the minimal viable coalition. PPACA passed at 219-60-1-5.
Thanks for another useful post. Might be useful to add that reforming the health care system is a difficult and contentious process in most countries. Swiss insurance companies and many providers fought reforms there hard, and are constantly trying to chip away at the current system to increase profits (by trying to move more coverage from required non-profit policies to much less regulated and more profitable supplemental market). And the current Swiss system, which seems have increased its performance in terms of population health, came out of several waves of reform. Netherlands is having a hard time controlling the profit-maximizing, but not necessarily good for patients, actions of its hidden single payer system that is largely operated by regulated private firms. New Zealand has gone through contentious re-reforms. So, I think, has Germany.
Maybe some countries like Portugal, where reform was done in middle of crisis and regime change show exceptions.
The process is very difficult and gradual in most countries.
I remember the day it passed. I was so happy.
Democrats have to be as noisy about what we want as the R’s are.
What part of “Obama announces that he has outlawed private health insurance forever and the bombing begins in ten minutes” do you not understand?
@RobertDSC-iPhone 4: I was so happy when it passed also. This is a huge undertaking and it’s incumbent on all of us to work for its success. Only when we have step 1 secured and accepted can we build to make it more inclusive and affordable. This is what our American history shows: nothing big happens that is fully birthed in its final form.
oh god, not this shit again.
why do people who can’t count to 60 hold such sway over the conversation ?
Who is Bernstein including as the third leading candidate, Edwards? If so, then I suspect all three ran on it for this reason: They all knew what would get through the Senate. It’s been talked about before how Congress is more conservative than the nations as a whole.
Wow, math is hard.
@cleek: When 2/3 of this country follows Vermont’s lead and implements Single Payer (I don’t hold much hope for my state of Texas or most of the south), we’ll still be talking about why Obama didn’t pass it in the first place. Not only can we not stop analyzing, but we not very good at winning.
I know we won, but why was that last play just a field goal? I wanted a touchdown.
@OzarkHillbilly: The combination on Dick Cheney’s mansized safe.
@Belafon: 2/3 of this country is 33 states (I’ll ignore the extra 1/3 of a state for this discussion).
Please list which 33 states you think will plausibly pass Single Payer in the next 20 years.
From where I sit, TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, NC, TN, KY, WY, ID, AZ, NE, KS, ND, SD, OK, WV, AR, and UT are definitely in the “no way, no how” column. WI, FL, NV, NM, and VA are in the “unlikely, but I can picture it” one.
That’s HALF the states right there.
It’s easy to handwave single payer into existence, as long as you assume an alternate universe. We are discussing this one, however.
@Omnes Omnibus: And I wanted a touchdown and a pony.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Omnes Omnibus: and to see their QB carted off the field in a stretcher to the keening lamentations of their coaching staff!
So much Firebaggery can be explained by the understandable but ultimately unimportant desire for Bill O’Reilly and your right-wing brother-in-law/uncle/ fellow poster on a blog to be as angry as we all were during the Bush years.
Also, too, O’Reilly is in a perpetual state of rage, so what’s the point?
@John D.: You should probably reread Belafon’s comment.
@Omnes Omnibus: Because there were a large number of Democrats in the Senate (Liberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, Nelson) that refused to go past the 35 yard line.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
That is very difficult for a Packer fan to read.
@Omnes Omnibus: No, I understand he was posing a counterfactual, but it was just odd he selected 2/3, which is why I asked. We weren’t discussing a constitutional amendment. I kind of lost my thread of argument at the end there, though. I blame interruptions at work.
@catclub: I read that as “manhood safe” and envisioned a very small box.
@John D.: My 2/3 was a bit of hyperbole. If you assume that universe, I’m still saying that:
1. The South would still rather pay for people to go to the emergency room than actually take care of their citizens.
2. Democrats will still fight over why they did what they did in 2009/2010.
Also, I’m one of those constantly pointing out that the ACA was the best we were going to get, and would have been the best we would have gotten had the president been a 60 year old white male. We possibly could have saved those people that are falling through the cracks, but Republicans would still be opposed to passing anything that would have made Democrats look good, and enough Democrats would have been opposed to dismantling the existing health care industry.
I was mostly talking about how Democrats work.
@John D.: No, it wasn’t a counterfactual. It was basically noting that just like many are still fighting the cultural battles of the 60s today, in 50 years or so, they will still be fighting the philosophical battles of healthcare reform.
@Omnes Omnibus: And you said what I said better than what I said I said. (I wrote that sentence just to see it.)
We may have nominally had the 60 in the Senate, but that included two near-outright traitors in Joe Lieberman, I-Aetna, and Ben Nelson, who was not merely a “blue dog” democrat, but a de facto Republican in Democratic clothing who was stuck with the Dems because he had no viable way to switch parties as a way to hold his Senate seat.
We also were unfortunate enough to have Max Baucus as chairman of the key Senate committee, who was both one of the largest beneficiaries of campaign contributions from the Health care industry, and also far too long a gullible patsy for facilitating the Republicans’ rope-a-dope strategy where e.g. the likes of Susan Collins would repeatedly display tantalyzing signs of being on the cusp of being agreeable to reasonable conditions for getting on board supporting health care legislation, to then always as crunch time approached, abruptly pull back because they found the ground offered unacceptable. It took like, forever for Obama, and especially Baucus, to finally realize that no proposals existed to which supposed GOP “moderates” would agree to in the end, because passing legislation wasn’t their true game, dragging the process out while giving time for GOP political operatives to use distortions and lies to build opposition to the law while giving them cover of making moderate Republicans appearing to be trying to work with dems was their true objective. It was all a dog and pony show.
Most of you probably missed it because it was embedded in the usual lengthy paragraph of “you all suck” attacks, but in another thread mclaren mentioned Brad DeLong’s complaint about the difference between the plan Obama presented in the ’08 primary, and the ACA as it exists. The ACA is actually a lot closer to what Hillary Clinton was advocating; Obama’s plan had no mandate and relied more on Medicare expansion, if I recall correctly, and Obama actually argued against the mandate in primary debates as something that differentiated him from Clinton.
DeLong acts as if Obama’s abandonment of this was some kind of baffling personal failure. But what I remember at the time was that even a fair number of Obama supporters were saying Clinton had the better of the argument; you couldn’t make this general class of public/private plans work well without a mandate. And my impression was that the votes weren’t there in 2009 to get any kind of plan passed that involved lowering the age for Medicare eligibility.
@Omnes Omnibus: Yea, ask Jim McMahon how he feels about Packer’s and injured QB’s.
Because our political culture promotes loud over well informed.
The economics of single-payer are compelling, and I don’t think they’ll be able to resist it if any medium-sized state implements it (Vermont by itself might not be enough, but I think Massachusetts will follow when it works, and then we’re off). Just the reduced administration costs save 15-20%. The Republicans will spin it as “ending Obamacare and cutting your taxes”, the Wurlitzer will blare, and it will go through.
You work with what you’ve got.
I just don’t know where Firebaggers get their ideas about what’s possible.
They’re just old enough to know something about the 20th Century Age of Liberal Legislation (1933-1980, approx.), but either too young or too indifferent to know that was: (a) an exercise in sausage-making as well; e.g., lots of compromises; and (b) an artifact of a unique peri- and post-war era the likes of which will never happen again; e.g., the US’ supremacy immediately after WWII, the G.I. Bill, the proliferation and accessibility of higher education, and the nation moving from an agricultural based economy and society to an industrialized economy and society. We had a very broad canvas to fill in, and both the will and the means to fill it.
I do understand the hunger to see modern Conservatism smashed; I’d like that, myself. But I want to see the ideology itself discredited and abandoned. Focusing on vengeance against a few marquee players doesn’t really touch the ideology; it just turns things into a team sport.
While I aspire to perfection I am willing to take less if that is all I can get.
Here we another in the unending cases where the ‘controversy’ is was what was achieved actually the best we could get. I can’t say for sure. After watching far too many Democratic Senators do their best to torpedo the whole deal I hate to say it but I suspect this was the best we could have gotten through to Presidential signature.
For myself, I think Nancy Pelosi was right. Take this deal and then let us make it better over time hopefully leading up to a Single Payer system (or MediCare for all). Both of which I support but feel have a snowball’s chance in hell of being enacted with the people populating our government right now (both Dems & Repubs).
In short and sadly, too many people on my side of the aisle seem to really like circular firing squads. How does that work anyhow?
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Come on, that’s not true and you know it. He’s often smug.
@cmorenc: Also, Ted Kennedy died at the worst imaginable moment, and Scott Fricken Brown won the special election to succeed him. I figured the whole thing was over right then and there.
@Matt McIrvin: “Obama’s plan had no mandate and relied more on Medicare expansion”
I agree with that, too. Lowering the Medicare age and charging the ‘younger’ enrollees a LOT would be a great benefit to all involved. Only drawback is that older employees would be more valuable (i.e cheaper) and would never leave space for younger ones.
I also want to lower the eligibility age one year every year. And a pony.
@MikeJ: Also puzzled about nature and tides. But who isn’t?
I’m not sure that’s true. There are some fights that we keep fighting for decades or centuries after they’re officially concluded, and some fights that drop out of the public consciousness pretty quickly after they’re over. My suspicion is that HCR is going to be one of the ones that drops in importance pretty quickly. Once people get used to the new system, it will be the new status quo that people defend from radical alternatives. The big fight will be over what if anything to do next, not how we got where we are.
Anyone who took freshman physics and did not sleep through it.
So that makes, what, 1% of the population? What about the other 99%?
@John D.: A lot of the Southern states were also late adopters to Medicaid when it was created. But eventually all of them ended up joining up because it made life much easier in the states. When California goes single payer, that will give them a HUGE competitive advantage for businesses. Vermont may well experience something similar.
Modern Conservatism may get smashed, and if there are some smart guys on the Republican side, the fight against Obamacare might be part of an intelligent strategy to save it. A recent poll found Millenials had a more positive view of socialism than capitalism; while I can’t find any old polls from, say, the Great Depression, I doubt that’s ever been true before. The main limitation on the leftism of the Millenials is that they don’t think the government can actually do anything successfully.
One or big time successes from federal programs could change that, and forge the first pro-socialist generation in American history. A successful implementation of Obamacare, followed by a meaningful increase in the minimum wage, would probably do the trick. Right now, that’s looking pretty doable.
@Roger Moore: You’re probably correct in general, but we’re talking about Democrats.
Though right now, Congress is so paralyzed that even making it better really isn’t that feasible; the Republicans aren’t willing to fix even minor problems with the ACA because they still want it gone, painful disasters in the system are of benefit to them, and they effectively have a veto.
I’m not even sure when making it better will be possible. 2017, maybe, if 2016 is a Democratic year. 2014 may not be a Republican wave but I think the chances of Democrats making any significant gains then are slim.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
I tried dialing this number. It said it was disconnected.
Villago Delenda Est
The problem of counting to 60 is that there is absolutely no Constitutional requirement to count past 51. It’s all Senate rules that can be changed, as we recently saw, by a 51 majority vote.
So many of the Democrats’ woes are self inflicted.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
You should try 867-5309 instead.
Wait until they’ve worked for a big company for six months. No better way to destroy one’s faith in private enterprise.
The government is, at least in theory, trying to provide a service to you. Private companies are by design trying to give you as little as possible for the largest price possible.
That wouldn’t have mattered if Bacaus didn’t waste so much time moderate republicans and other unicorns.
Villago Delenda Est
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
On edit: /shakefist Roger Moore
@Roger Moore: Forever and ever amen.
We, as a nation, never discuss history, except for the high points. “We won a war!”
When we do have the rare discussion, we generally agree on “conventional wisdom,” which is often wrong or incomplete.
Louder people always win the discussion/argument.
@Villago Delenda Est: Yes, you are right in a technical sense, 51 votes are the minimal winning coalition in the Senate behind the veil of ignorance. However, to get that in 2009, you’ll need Bayh, Nelson, Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu, Lincoln, Pryor vote to give up their influence and leverage on policy to the damn dirty hippies that they electorally need/want to punch on a daily basis for either personal reasons (Lieberman) or electoral survival reasons (everyone else) plus keep the long term Senate Dem traditionalists on board for a radical change (Levin, Leahy, Feinstein) when they have not been radicalized. Hell, Levin still has not been radicalized by 5 years of GOP obstruction.
@IM: Was he trying to get GOP support, or was he trying to get conservaDem support by trying to get GOP support. I’m fairly certain that Baucus et al would have been very happy to have gotten Snowe, Collins and one or two more non-reactionary assholes on board but was that the point of the last 3 months of talks?
@Villago Delenda Est:
well, that just lowers the number a bit. now you need to count to 51.
so, count off the 51 Senators who would have voted to do away with the legislative filibuster, in the service of passing single-payer, in 2009/10.
i’d bet there weren’t 20.
Feelings, nothing moar than feelings.
Also, improper expectation settings then outsourcing the blame due to improper belief of one’s perfection.
@schrodinger’s cat: Actually, after Freshman physics I still would have many of the misconceptions about tides that most people have. But after a Physical Oceanography class, I have a better idea than most.
Other things about nature still puzzle me. The placebo effect is fascinating when it can be blocked with drugs. (Person is told they are getting an opioid when they are just getting water – they get relief. Give them a drug that blocks opioids, and the water no longer gives relief. Huh?!)
Thank you for breaking it down. It seems like too many people forgot the 2007 -2008 debates on healthcare where the three major candidates running for president ran on similar plans that were not single payer. I recall president Obama saying that if he could start from scratch he would choose single payer, but that would be impossible so we have take an incremental approach.
Dear Grod this is some depressing shit right here.
History repeats, tragedy, farce, yadda yadda. But hot damn if in 50 years the idiots of tomorrow are fighting the healthcare battles of today the way that the idiots of today are fighting the cultural battles of the 60s, I’ll be annoyed. And probably dead – I doubt I last another 50 years.
(The “cultural battles of the 60s” were mostly reaction to racism, desegregation, and the end of the post-World War II boom economy, as well as a groundswell of young people coming of age at a time when television and cinema moguls were discovering that there was a large amount of money to be made off of a large number of young people coming of age simultaneously if you geared your entertainment towards them instead of their parents. I don’t think the stew is quite right for the kind of political/cultural realignment that came out of the 60s, but I suppose a hilarious knock-off version might be in the offing…)
@Villago Delenda Est:
And it took half a decade of Republican obstructionism to convince the Democrats to take the baby step they wound up taking. Revising the filibuster rule was not a politically plausible step for the Senate Democrats in 2009-2010, especially given the number of them who wanted to take advantage of the supermajority rule to demand their own concessions. It wasn’t until it was crystal clear that there was no alternative that they were willing to take that step.
@catclub: What happens if you give them a placebo that blocks opioids? What about a drug that blocks placebos?
@Belafon: See what I mean? Mysterious! Drug goes in, drug goes out, nobody knows why.
Villago Delenda Est
That may perhaps be the case, but it won’t be forever. The biggest problem is a lot of people are willing to accept being bent over and violated when it comes to health “insurance”. They can’t get angry enough to demand the massive reform that is needed to bring the US health care system monster under control. A wide variety of radical changes are needed…annihilating the AMA, destroying the notion of “health insurance” as the only possible way to finance health care, making it so that preventative care is the first line of defense for everyone, and killing, for once and for all time, the bizarre and twisted and economically idiotic notion that emergency rooms should be a first line of health care at any time.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
You folks look pretty sad and defensive going back a couple years to make the case that nothing better was in the offing. Maybe you should spend your energy on lobbying for something better instead of making excuses for why nothing better is possible. I’m pretty sure that’s what we told you then.
Villago Delenda Est
It took repeated beatings to get the message through. If dipshits like Reid had not, apparently, enjoyed the beatings so much, Merkley’s notion of fuck this shit would have been adapted far sooner.
Don’t forget the highly fluid and decentralized nature of political parties. They weren’t united around a common ideology like the Communists, Socialists or Christian-Democrats in Europe, but were loose coalitions of regional party organizations, which might rally around one presidential candidate every four years but could be relied on to regularly break ranks with their own party when it came to voting on the individual issues.
That was the case for most of history but it became even more true in the twentieth century with the slow exodus of the progressive wing of the Republican Party over to the Democrats beginning in 1912, and later on the corresponding exodus of conservative (mostly Southern) Democrats beginning in 1948.
Parties were a lot more fractured, therefore deal-making was easier to do, when there wasn’t a giant, monolithic entity like modern movement conservatism.
@cleek: More importantly, identify a proposal that is significantly more liberal that does not lose more than 1 vote in the House?
I firmly believe that if Nancy Pelosi can do one thing well, that thing is count. I also believe with reasonable evidence that she probably had a few Reps in her back pocket who personally preferred outcome was a bill that passed but a no next to their name and were willing to be the last yes if needed. So let’s be generous, find a proposal that only loses 7 House Dems
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Can people do both?
People also forget that senator Tom Carper of Delaware was working behind the scenes to stop a public option from being added to the ACA. You had a sizable bloc of senators opposed to a public option.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
This is balloon juice. We come here to make excuses for not doing anything.
More seriously, the ACA is just the next step. Medicare was the last step and it only took 50 years to improve it. We’re on a roll.
Back in the day nobody said it was about gaining support from conservative democrats. I mean how many democrats to the right of Baucus were there anyway? That is an after the fact excuse for the error of Baucus and the White House who hoped to repeat their bipartisan success with the stimulus and wasted three months.
65 comments in. How many are pastes from FDL articles claiming Obama killed the public option? How many are misinterpretations of an unsourced New York Times article? How many are quotes from Daschle that neglect to point out Daschle retracted his statement?
@raven: OT, but I went to school with Charles Martin, the player that injured McMahon. If there can be such a thing as a Jekyll/Hyde split in real life, he was it. The absolute nicest person ever – until he put that helmet on. Damnedest thing I ever saw. He died in 2005 of renal failure.
Don’t read too much into that. I think it’s just that for our entire lives, “socialism” has had no meaning in our politics other than “anything teabaggers and one percenters don’t like,” and when you put it that way, it’s really not bad.
@ranchandsyrup: That lyric is jacked; it doesn’t fit.
Didn’t rhyme either.
@cleek: These same people fancied themselves to be mini Senate Majority Leaders and Speakers of the House. They even pretended they were whipping votes. They later used their horrifyingly shoddy “whip counts” as evidence there was deep support for a public option in the House and the Senate.
@Ben Cisco: Lulz. I modified it for my slam poetry reading.
Should have put a space between them. Hope all is well, Sir.
Another Holocene Human
@Fair Economist: Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage in 2003, and the national map still looks like this:
It’s better when considered in terms of population (and Florida, for example, has a lot of municipal domestic partnership laws), but not by much.
Villago Delenda Est
I think I understand why all those Dems opposed the public option.
It’s the same idiotic problem that this entire society faces.
Short term personal gain vs. long term collective efficiency.
The current system is wasteful in delivering health care to the vast majority of Americans, but then again, that’s not a bug, that’s a feature. That’s it’s true purpose.
It’s true purpose is deriving gain for a very small number of people off the suffering of the vast majority.
It is inherently immoral by any standard Jesus might have taught, but laudable under the notions of Ayn Rand.
As we all know, Jesus, should he return as promised by the book of fairy tales right this moment, would be crucified again by many of those who claim to revere him.
@Ben Cisco: I spent over 20 years running municipal recreation sport programs and I am well familiar with that.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Nearly one year after Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of rape by a female FSU student, the state attorney has decided not to charge the Heisman Trophy favorite, a source who helped draft the statement to the media told Jeff Cameron, host of 97.9 ESPN Tallahassee.
@Jeremy: yup. There were a LOT of naysayers, some of whom kept their heads even further down than that. Webb, f’rinstance. The Dakota Democrats.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: OK, so, nothing better is politically possible–yet. I welcome all efforts to make something better politically possible. Moping, harrumphing, and finger-pointing seem like three distinctly sucktastic ways to try to make something better politically possible. That’s true for supporters and it’s true for detractors too.
@IM: The stimulus is not a great example because they needed some republican support to pass it. At that time they needed 60 votes to pass the package and at that time they couldn’t count on democratic votes alone to pass it.
The biggest known unknown is how much different would things have been, if Sen. Kennedy did not get brain cancer and was unable to work.
Baucus got HCR reform dumped on him because of Kennedy’s absence.
To Dodd’s credit, he got a draft done before the summer recess. Baucus out the brakes on what his committee was doing, so there was no bill before the summer recess.
Democrats, in theory, should have done a victory lap in August 2009 about getting HCR done, along with other achievements, but with Kennedy out of the game the Dems had nothing concrete to take back and things just snowballed from there.
Villago Delenda Est
Well we’ve got no class.
And we’ve got no principals
And we’ve got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!
@raven: Who knows what happened. But everything about this case seems wrong to me on so many different levels.
@Tommy: The football haters will jump up and down as usual.
Yes. And now you just have to construct a time machine and give this information to Baucus and The White House in late summer 2009.
But you are right: one of their gains int he stimulus compromise was a democrat by then. Of course that fact made the hopes of conservatives democrats and the WH of gaining republican votes even more illusory.
@raven: It just pisses me off to no end on many levels. The top of the list is the women was attacked. And why don’t more women report being raped, well they don’t want to be attacked. But on the other hand, maybe the guy was innocent. I just don’t know. This isn’t how our justice system should work.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
@FlipYrWhig: You’ve never made the case for anything other than what was presented by the TPTB. You are nothing more than a cheerleader.
@raven: Charles Martin was suspended for that hit. Also, Charles Martin has been dead for 8 years. Further, a play that happened more than 25 years ago does not negate the fact that my team’s quarterback is injured and it has affected the team’s success.
@Villago Delenda Est:
It’s not just that it took a lot of beatings to get the message through. It’s also that the interests of individual senators conflicted with the interests of the party as a whole, which made it a lot harder to get enough people to agree on anything. I think that was especially bad when the Democrats were actually close to the 60 vote margin, since the need for a supermajority gave the Conservadems effective veto power that they didn’t want to give up. As long as there were more than 10 Senators who wanted an effective veto on legislation- and the signs are that there were- there was a coalition within the party to block filibuster reform. You can blame that on Harry Reid, but it’s a mistake; you should hang the blame on the Senators who were blocking reform to preserve their own power at the expense of party success.
@Jeremy: IMHO the stimulus is the most underappreciated part of the dynamic of the health care debate. After having been persuaded to undertake roughly $800B in spending, because it was an emergency to stave off depression, a lot of the persuaded were in no mood to take up further Big! Government! Spending! when it came to health care. Thus, the need to keep everything as streamlined and minimally ambitious as possible. The stimulus is the reason for the quick (re)embrace of deficit hawkery, “fiscal responsibility,” and the overall squicked-out-ness of Democrats towards shoring up the welfare state ever since.
IMHO if there had been no Great Recession, the health care law might have had room for liberal priorities like the public option, and might have even won a modicum of support from Republican moderates. It was the crisis of 2008 that made the stimulus necessary, and the stimulus that made Obamacare and the debate over it take the shape it took. YMMV.
@Omnes Omnibus: And I love you and hate the Packers.
“During pre-game warm-ups, Martin displayed a white hand-towel with a list of Bears offensive players’ numbers, which he wore during the game. He allegedly claimed that it was a hit-list.
Same as a QB “getting hurt” in a game?
@Another Holocene Human: One thing the map doesn’t show is the time sequence: there was massive counterreaction against gay marriage for the first five years, but a large fraction of the total progress has been in just the past year and a half.
But you’re right in that it probably won’t keep going for long at that rate, for both legal and cultural reasons. I would expect the state-by-state adoption of single-payer insurance to be similarly bursty.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: I can’t even tell you how wounded that makes me feel.
I’m just some guy. What the fuck am I supposed to advocate? Stuff I Like? And I demand it on blogs? That seems kind of unbelievably stupid. I think it’s much more useful to talk about the reasons why what happened happened, as opposed to why my tinselled dreams are vastly superior to gray, depressing reality.
@Jeremy: I like to joke my little town knows how to fill out paperwork (jab at NJ). We got a lot of stimulus money and we did “cool” stuff with it. Best example is we got $750,000 and wired every public building with fiber. Built a darn fiber backbone out. We’re now looking at offered access to all businesses, to well get more businesses to move here.
True. The country’s inability to accept that stimulus, even with lots of deficit spending, is a natural and necessary part of government economics until the economy improves, is something that needs to change if we’re ever going to have a stable economy.
I’m not convinced that no recession would’ve made HCR easier, though – because by the same token the bad economy is what made things like better access to health care much more urgent than they might otherwise have been.
@raven: I am not trying to equate the two things. I have never defended Martin’s actions. But if you want to play classless moves by an organization though, try this one for size: Having Perry score a touchdown in the Superbowl rather than giving Payton a chance to do it.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
@FlipYrWhig: Yeah, I guess that was unfair. Sorry, I get the cheerleaders mixed up. You are rationalize-away-failure guy.
@Omnes Omnibus: I’ll NEVER forgive dem for dat.
@Chris: interesting. I think it’s the reverse, though: think about how people are more willing to address climate change and other environmental issues when the economy is booming. My hunch is that in bad economic times it’s harder to get both the populace and politicians to throw themselves into Not The Economy, for fear that what they want to do will Cost Jobs and Hurt Businesses. But of course health care is economic, so maybe I’m drawing too big a conclusion from too little evidence.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Also, the bank bailout. Michael Grunwald reported that when he interviewed congress members for his book on the Stimulus, a lot of them didn’t understand the difference between a bailout and stimulus, and I think the average voter makes even less of a distinction. I don’t know why people think “gov’t spending and deficits” make for a bad economy, but it seems pretty ingrained in people’s heads, not least the VSPs on your TeeVee.
But I do look forward to Fuckhead’s report on the moment he persuades Dianne Feinstein to think and vote like Elizabeth Warren. He’s going to “lobby”, and show us all how it’s done!
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Well, I suppose I… accept your apology? :P But, you know, I’ll own that. I do think it’s necessary to figure out why stuff sucks, as opposed to reveling in pointing out that it does.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: FFS, there isn’t anyone who argued that the ACA was perfect desired end result. The general consensus was that it was a good start. For me, the fact that it is establishing the idea that healthcare is a right is worth it in and of itself. Once the major if the population view it that way universal coverage is inevitable. In the meantime, as problems surface with the current law, they need to be fixed.
@Chris: I will never understand why folks can’t see sometimes you have to spend money to actually save money. A community around me got a few million in Stimulus money. They used it to build a few miles of roads to connect them to the major highway. The local business journal did an amazing story that something stunning happened.
Once connected to the highway businesses started to open. 47 new jobs. That might not sound like much, but when you live in a rural area like I do 47 jobs is a lot of jobs.
That business journal isn’t close to a liberal publication. But they did story after story on the Stimlus fund (best coverage by far IMHO). Highlighting how well it worked. Now they endorsed Mitt, but they liked that money coming into the region.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
It seems to me that the Obots are spending more time trying to get something better than the firebaggers. We aren’t the ones who are still trying to assign blame for not getting a perfect system years after the law passed. And, bluntly, the reason we have anything to try improving today is because of the people who were willing to accept an incremental improvement rather than demanding perfection or nothing.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Right, I forget the bank stuff too. Yes, absolutely. I think Democrats started to get Billions Fatigue right around 2009, and some of them were straying from the pack in major ways when HCR came up on the docket.
People forget that what really held up the passage of Medicare were a number of conservative democrats from the south in the 60’s. You had some democrats working to undermine JFK’s push for Medicare. The same happened during Truman’s healthcare push. The point is that in a democracy in a large country with various interest groups it takes incremental change to move things forward.
Villago Delenda Est
OT, but latest idiocy from Noisemax:
Neil Cavuto to Democrats: Stop Blaming Fox
Democrats to Cavuto: Eat shit and die, asshole.
@raven: I didn’t play after Pop Warner; I guess I never got to the point where I was that ramped up about it. I guess I understood it even less than I thought at the time.
Villago Delenda Est
This is because one of the most revered works in western scholarship, The Wealth of Nations, is one of the most unread. Particularly by those who cite it to justify things that its author would be appalled at.
@Jeremy: Exactly. There is a story I like to tell. My parents get their health care from the Federal government, cause my dad worked 30+ years for the DoD. Earlier this year my mom got really sick. Honestly to this day we are not totally clear what happened. She was in the ICU for a month. Bills were $279,000.
My parents paid ZERO dollars. Ponder that for a second …..
I want that for other people, my fellow Americans. But I find what I want other people don’t always want. So yes, sometimes you have to take baby steps. You can’t change things overnight to the way I want them.
Totally agree with your comment on “wait until they see how private enterprise works”… it makes the government “sausage factory” look like a flower shop… There is blood and gore all over the walls in the private enterprise “slaughtershop”. And believe me, the blood and gore is largely that of the rank and file employees…. American large business today is a horror show…
Also, I want to commend this wonderful post and the many many informative and funny comments that make the post even better. thanks to everyone!
Single Payer back when ACA was passed?
Dream of unicorns.
Barack Obama succeeded where every President since Harry Truman failed.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
You don’t HAVE to be an asshole. We get that you are trying real hard though. The thing is, shooting the people on your own team doesn’t really help your team.
Think about it.
I can sort of understand why the idea takes hold because there are so many cases we can think of of spending money, being told we’ll get a return, and then not getting a return (maybe not as many as we think, but we tend to remember the bad stories).
Like, we’re told, “don’t trust the government, invest in a private retirement fund, it’ll be more profitable, you’ll get more of a return!” Then an economic crash happens and the private fund gets hit hard. Or, we’re told “take out loans, go to college! Sure you’ll be in debt but you’ll be more competitive afterwards, so you’ll get a good job and be able to pay it back!” And then we graduate from college and find nothing waiting for us but the debt.
So while the sentiment is mistaken (because not every investment is like that), I can understand why, especially in this era, there would be a reluctance to part with any of the money we have now in return for the hope that maybe we’ll get it back later. Bird in the hand vs two in the bush, is the thinking.
Amen to that, brother.
Or they’ll spin it as Soshulism and death panels. Place your bets now!
Confronting the Skulduggery
Thu Dec 5th, 2013 at 02:43:04 PM EST
This is some low down and dirty skulduggery.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
@kindness: You can pie me.
@Roger Moore: this is extremely nerdy information, but it turns out that 867-5309 is a prime number. So I always sing along with the words “Jenny, I got you’re number, and I know that it’s prime…”
What, no one else thinks this is important to know? I’m hurt!
@Chris: You are getting at something that pisses me off more than just about anything. We have a political party that doesn’t believe in government. They openly try to “break” it and then say “hey look government doesn’t work.”
I’ve ranted here, in a good way, about the town I live in. Voted 57% for McCain over Obama and I live in Illinois. But my local government rocks. It is run well. But as my city manager said one time “people like nice things, nice things cost money.”
That was said in the election where we voted 57% for McCain we also voted 63% to raise our taxes to build a new high school.
You can be a Republican and still want government to run well. Those that don’t, well I want to take them outback and have a frank conversation with you!
pretend i upvoted your comment
I guess I’m naive, but what happened to the part of the president’s job where he persuades and convinces his coalition by the force and intelligence of his argument? He makes a brilliant case for single payer — he leads — and others follow, because rational grown-ups see that he’s correct, they see that he’s making the wisest case for the country’s future.
That’s why I prefer people like Elizabeth Warren in public office — people who are highly knowledgeable on the issues and who lead.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
And that’s why 73% of Americans supported the Iraq War, because they’re rational grown-ups! Choose your own adventure liberals, unite!
The Defining Challenge of Our Time”: Obamacare’s Role is Leveling the Economic Playing Field
Wednesday, December 04, 2013 | Posted by Spandan C at 2:20 PM
In a speech today, President Obama called income inequality combined with reduced economic mobility the defining challenge of our time. He is right. We live in the richest nation the planet has ever known, yet our infant mortality rate is among the highest in the industrialized world. We are country of such plenty that our presidential contenders build out elevators for their cars, and yet every night 16 million children go to bed hungry even as our stock market hovers at 16,000. We live in a country where the same politicians arguing for unlimited campaign spending by the ultra rich balk at paying our workers a fair wage.
Income inequality is the defining economic challenge of our time. And it’s the biggest reason why we need Obamacare. The income gap among the rich and the poor is, if you will, the economy’s pre-existing condition that needs a cure. One of the most important factors widening that gap – if not the most important factor – was the disparity in health care cost and affordability among the rich and the poor. The old health care system not only resulted in it being by far the biggest cause of personal bankruptcies, a system could not have performed more efficiently were it designed to intentionally keep poor impoverished and enriching the already-wealthy.
Most importantly, because of Obamacare, tens of millions of Americans will be eligible for tax credits and subsidies to purchase coverage (or be eligible for Medicaid). People in the individual market will be able to pool their purchasing power through exchanges the same way that big businesses do for their employees. No longer will the dream of an entrepreneur be deferred simply because she needs her employer’s plan to pay for her child’s care. No more will an accident or a diagnosis of a chronic illness put whole families on the streets. The number one cause of bankruptcy will become a footnote in history.
Yes, those benefits are righteous. But those are also perhaps the most important step America can take to break the logjam of our gaping economic inequality and social immobility. Taking the burden of health care off the shoulders of the neediest and holding insurers, employers, and individuals accountable will go a long way towards taking that shackle off our society’s feet. It will free entrepreneurs, increase productivity, and level the playing field.
@cleek: [wags tail with joy]
I’m really not sure whether you’re being sarcastic here. You understand that: first, people are quite happy to hurt themselves (and happier to hurt other people) out of spite, and we’ve got a lot of that going around in case you haven’t noticed; and second, one man’s waste and inefficiency is another man’s boat payment, and that other man may have enough money to invest in congressional representatives.
@jc: The power to persuade is most effective in two circumstances. First, it can move people at the margins – if you are one or two votes short for something or a percentage point or two off, it can make a difference. Second, if the vast majority of people are convinced that something needs to be done but are quite sure what that something is, a cogent argument can convince them to support a particular cause of action.
With the ACA, however, there were a shitload of people who were arguing that nothing needed to be done and further that the feds were coming to put Granny on an ice floe. And these people were being given free access to the airwaves all the time. Then there were a bunch of people who knew that something needed to be done, but weren’t going to go along with anything major – no matter what – and these people were in the president’s own party.
That is, in fact, the root cause of my not voting Republican, and the short version I’ll tell people if they ask me why I don’t vote Republican. There’s plenty of other reasons (the bigotry, the fact that their ideas don’t work, the way they ignore any and all rules, laws and principles to get what they want)
… but beneath all of that is the very simple fact that I don’t want people running my government who have staked the entire careers on the idea that the thing I’m electing them to run doesn’t/can’t/shouldn’t work. There is no other sphere of human activity in which we accept that, and we shouldn’t here, either. The whole “oh, I want to get government down to the size where I can drown it in the bathtub” thing? We would never in a million years make someone a general who talked that way about the army, or make someone a CEO who talked that way about the corporation, or make someone a football coach who talked that way about our team. We are begging for dysfunction and inefficiency, if not active sabotage.
Hiring people who aren’t anti-government nihilists doesn’t guarantee that the government will work, but hiring anti-government nihilists does guarantee that it won’t.
@Chris: Yeah, there is a huge difference between the old model conservatives who wanted a smaller government than liberals do but still wanted the government to function and today’s nihilists who don’t want it to work at all.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Even more than the Bush years, the Obama years have pretty much trashed any residual baseline expectation I still had that most “fellow” ‘mercans are rational, moral, let alone sane or kind, actors. I try, sometimes, but I just can’t relax and trust the neighbors anymore. Certain suburbs set off all kinds of alarms.
And that is it. I don’t think pro-government people are good at their jobs. They could be terrible at it. But I honestly think many Republicans want to break government to show said government doesn’t work.
The ACA is a perfect example. I mean in your face that Republican run states won’t set up their own exchange. Won’t take Medicare money. Then they say, “shit this doesn’t work.”
@jc: You need to pick up a history book on U.S politics because you clearly believe in this fantasy that presidents are dictators who can force what they want. If Elizabeth Warren were president you would be disappointed in her because she would be forced to compromise at some point in order to get things done. Every president has compromised and failed to get exactly everything they want. President Bush’s social security privatization scheme and his immigration reform effort failed after using enormous political capital even with his own party.
Ahh says fywp
@Matt McIrvin: The bottom line is that the people who need it most will receive it last, just as John Roberts engineered with M ed icaid. Deep South and kansohomass inmates.
Unlike ssm, the lack of equality feeds the continuence of inequality and poverty.
So, in this case, bad strategy.
About 10. No joke.
I think that goes for just about any population; sit down with a marketing professor for a bit and see what he thinks about the rationality of yer average Joe. Take a combination of resistance to change, lack of knowledge (coupled with a lack of knowledge of their lack of knowledge), rather shaky grasp of probability and statistics, a good helping of parochial self interest, and love of a good story, and you’ve got the weaknesses of your basic voter.
I really can’t stand stupid liberals who believe that legislation can pass only if a president uses the bully pulpit. And before anyone brings up LBJ he had the luxury of dealing with a republican party that was pretty moderate, and a 2/3 majority in both houses after JFK’s death and the 1964 landslide.
As opposed to the self-evidently ignorant Obama, obviously. Throw something in there about teleprompters while you’re at it.
Where have you been? Political scientists have known at least since 1960 that The American Voter is not rational, not ideological, and has incoherent views of politics.
Ahh says fywp
I have relished the emergence of Millennials’ rejection of the cult of sloburbia. Even the GenX hipsters. Gentrification isn’t all bad. It changes the politics bc u have to see the results of policies, and it weakens the political support for asphalt, mcmans io ns, and Canyoneros, all of which require piggy subsidies and extract an environmental toll. It fucks the fyigm racists is what I’m saying (even if hipsters are hardly the most socially enlightened of creatures)[email protected]scav:
@jc: look, I have a longstanding not-entirely-non-sexual crush on Elizabeth Warren, but where precisely has she “led” anyone? Has she swung votes that were in doubt? Has she persuaded the otherwise un-persuadable? I hope you’re joking, but I honestly can’t tell.
@ericblair: probably true, but I admit to finding myself unprepared for the malignant and intentional stupidity clung to by the neighbors. Not just simple lazy inability to think logically, but active flaunting of a basic unwillingness to even pretend to coherency. Had to adjust my misanthropy meter down a few notches and I wasn’t much of a pollyanna before.
@scav: Eh, I buy into Churchill’s view: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
Possibly OT: what I will never understand is why so many people want her to immediately make the jump to President.
She’s one of the few elected officials loudly speaking a left wing message that resonates with a lot of people (not an isolated kook like Dennis Kucinich), and doing it in one of the country’s most visible centers of power, at a time and in an institution when such voices are damn rare. We need more people like that right where she is. We don’t need to rush her into the White House. She couldn’t remain a left wing voice if she did that anyway (being the president of all Americans, including all those who want you dead, requires too much deal-making and compromising for that, even if you’re FDR or LBJ). And even if she could – the president can do nothing without the support of Congress, and I don’t see how we can move Congress to the left without voices like hers in it (which we won’t have it we keep rushing them into presidential elections).
@Omnes Omnibus: Would that were slightly less innovative in coming up with anything else.
I don’t think it is. If you count states, sure. If you count citizens, no. You already have 25% of the country on Medicare. Another 20% on Medicaid. You get CA and NY on the single payer bandwagon and along with MA/HI you’ve got another 12% of the country done (excludes the two populations above).
You get CA on board, which is economically competitive with every other state in almost every broad industry (commerce, agriculture, manufacturing, tech, etc) and single payer works as we know it will, and the other states will jump on if only to save their own economy. MA is already having that effect in some industries.
@? Martin: in the article about the flaws that the left and right see in the constitution, one proposal was: If 2/3rds of the states propose it, then it becomes law.
However, there were some proposals that would be: If the states with 2/3rds the population proposed something, that would be the law. I even think that some on the far right agreed with this.
I was surprised to see that.
Gosh, you mean the Democrats didn’t trumpet far and wide that they were having trouble getting their own party members to sign on and were having to make compromises with them? Because that would have gone over really well with the press that was demanding a “bipartisan” solution.
Two words: Joe. Lieberman. You seem not to recall that (a) he’s the guy who killed the idea of lowering the Medicare age and (b) caucused with the Democrats and was one of the votes in favor of PPACA.
Yes, they did.
What you are willfully denying is that Joe Lieberman is the most Pure of the True Progressives, and the only reason he didn’t personally force through single payer health care is because Obama THREW IT ON THE GROUND.
That’s unfair. Most of the presidents since Truman didn’t even try.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Omnes Omnibus: I actually thought Snowe and Collins might prove more gettable than some of the Conservadems, which I thought was the point, also the Beltway “bipartisan” fetish.
Well, I’m extremely nerdy (and have the Caltech degree to prove it) so I think that’s pretty cool. I have a Dale Carnegie theory of remembering integers. Carnegie suggested that you learn three facts about a person when you meet them to make them easier to remember. I find that if I learn three number theoretical facts about an integer when I see it, I have a much easier time remembering it. So checking for primeness is one of the first things I usually do when I think about a number.
@Matt McIrvin: Agree about the timespan of legalizing gay marriage. Minnesota just did it in 2013. Frankly, the primary reason it happened is that the Republicans decided to put forth an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage in the 2012 election. The thinking was that it would rally the Republican base to vote. Instead it triggered a massive backlash which defeated the amendment and basically gave the new Democratic majority legislature cover to claim a mandate for same-sex marriage. IMHO would not have happened this quickly without that failed amendment proposal by the Republicans.
Davis X. Machina
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Ten years ago, that might have been true. The GOP was different then, the Senate Democratic caucus certainly was.
No, but apparently we’d hire their consulting firm or sell off to their leveraged buyout and let them drown it anyway.
It’s kind of a miracle that only 47% of us wanted one of them to be president.