Today’s opining on the public discourse.
Scene: health care reform lying on city street, bleeding profusely from deep stab wounds, staring up at the mob of Cons and Blue Dogs surrounding it with knives still drawn.
HEATH CARE REFORM [to Blue Dogs]: Et tu, Brute?
The demands of conservative Blue Dog Democrats in health care reform have been odd and contradictory. But their capacity to kill this rare opportunity remains great, and they can still make matters even worse.
Some centrist House Democrats have reached out to Republicans to explore breaking with their party leadership on healthcare and crafting a reform bill with the rival GOP, one congressman claimed Saturday.
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) asserted that an “interesting development” is taking place underway that, if true, could effectively remove Democratic leadership from the driver’s seat on healthcare reform legislation in the House.
“There’s an interesting development occurring behind the scenes, wherein moderate Democrats — so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats — and business-friendly new Democrats are actually starting to have conversations with us to build a coalition from the center outward, to actually really come up with substantive and well-founded healthcare reform,” Boustany said during an appearance on Fox News. “And that’s the only way to do this.”
Really? That’s the “only” way to reform the system? For conservatives in one party to join up with conservatives in the other party, in order to undermine months of progress? Funny, I can think of other ways to reform the broken system.
So can we all. In fact, most of us understand that joining up with the Cons is the best way to not reform the system. It’s probably because we don’t have the siren song of insurance industry money driving us to distraction.
Maybe the Blue Dogs just didn’t get the memo:
A strategy memo authored by GOP consultant Alex Castellanos suggests that “it is crucial for Republicans to slow down what it calls ‘the Obama experiment with our health.’” The memo concludes, “If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it, and advance real reform that will actually help.”
Alex, of course, forgot the crucial last phrase of his memo: “no one except the insurance companies and the Cons.”
Let’s not forget that the Cons have absolutely no reason to see health care reform succeed and every reason to root for failure:
In 1993, Bill Kristol privately advised congressional Republicans to do whatever it took to “kill” the Clinton health care reform initiative. It wasn’t that the policy proposal was a bad idea; it was that passage would help the Democratic Party for years to come. The GOP, he said, for the sake of its own future, couldn’t compromise or negotiate with the majority.
Sixteen years later, a wide variety of Democrats are working hard to convince Republicans to support reform, despite the built-in incentive for seeing reform fail.
It occurs to me, then, that there’s at least a possibility that “centrist” Democrats — Blue Dogs, New Democrats, Lieberman, et al — might not see failure as such a horrible option here. In other words, they may realize that coming up short on health care, letting this opportunity slip away, and hurting millions of Americans in the process may be devastating for the Democratic majority, but these same “centrist” Democrats may prefer a smaller majority, or perhaps even a GOP majority to “balance” the Democratic president. They may very well disagree with the party’s leadership on most issues, and think the best course of action is taking away their power by undermining the party’s agenda.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which turns out to be true. Blue Dogs and New Democrats [sic] just need their asses primaried. Playing nice with the frothing insane minority is fine on some shit, but not on the shit that matters.
The larger points made in [Obama’s] speech are really good and it’s too bad that only about 12 people will hear it.
You’d think this wouldn’t have to be said, but it’s actually an argument that can’t be made often enough:
This is an issue that affects the health and financial well-being of every single American and the stability of our entire economy.
It’s about every family unable to keep up with soaring out of pocket costs and premiums rising three times faster than wages. Every worker afraid of losing health insurance if they lose their job, or change jobs. Everyone who’s worried that they may not be able to get insurance or change insurance if someone in their family has a pre-existing condition.
It’s about a woman in Colorado who told us that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her insurance company – the one she’d paid over $700 a month to – refused to pay for her treatment. She had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life.
It’s about a man from Maryland who sent us his story – a middle class college graduate whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs. During that time, he needed emergency surgery, and woke up $10,000 in debt – debt that has left him unable to save, buy a home, or make a career change.
It’s about every business forced to shut their doors, or shed jobs, or ship them overseas. It’s about state governments overwhelmed by Medicaid, federal budgets consumed by Medicare, and deficits piling higher year after year.
This is the status quo. This is the system we have today. This is what the debate in Congress is all about:
Whether we’ll keep talking and tinkering and letting this problem fester as more families and businesses go under, and more Americans lose their coverage. Or whether we’ll seize this opportunity – one we might not have again for generations – and finally pass health insurance reform this year, in 2009.
The insurance companies, the politicians who serve them and the wealthy ideologues who want to ensure that the rubes never realize that they have the power to challenge the ruling class, are working overtime to redirect the free floating anxiety people feel over jobs and health care and a whole host of very real problems to a fear of abstractions like future deficits. I think people have to be reminded that the status quo equals the very real and immediate threat of losing everything they have if they get sick.
This is the status quo the Blue Dogs and New Democrats [sic] are dragging their heels on fixing, the status quo the Cons see absolutely nothing wrong with (except that it doesn’t include insurance insurance yet). We need to spend a lot of time patiently explaning to people who’ve fallen for insurance company lies, slick Con talking points, and Blue Dog bullshit exactly why it’s in their best interest to see those fuckers fail, not health care reform. We need them to understand exactly what’s at stake and who’s trying to shaft them, because they’ll need long memories come Election Day and it’s time to run the bastards out of town.
I’ll bring the pitchforks if you bring the torches.
Let’s finish up Happy Hour with two fine examples of Con “reasoning,” shall we? Just make sure you’ve swallowed all drinks first:
One of the most amusing genres of wingnut writing is the “it was cool somewhere on the planet today which proves Al Gore is lying” post. Nate Silver had a funny take on this yesterday (also noted by Thers), in response to this Assrocket post.
Silver, unlike Assrocket, actually bothered to look up the temperatures and it turns out that, surprise!, Assrocket was completely wrong about the weather in his own city. Oh well.
Undeterred by that rather embarrassing exchange, the non-partisan liberatarian Putz jumped to Assrocket’s defense.
OKAY, I STEPPED OUTSIDE A LITTLE WHILE AGO, and it was actually a bit chilly. In Knoxville, in mid-July. My dad says it hasn’t broken 90 all summer, which may be right. I’m saving real money on A/C bills this year. Could be worse — could be Michigan.
Meanwhile, Nate Silver says it’s all in your mind. Two thoughts: (1) I hope so — better that than living in a John Ringo novel. (2) Just remember Nate’s stuff when the press is yammering on about a hot day, or a hurricane, being “caused by global warming.”
So Nate mocks wingnuts for ignoring hard data in favor of rather shallow, subjective observations, and Putz responds with “Nate Silver is clearly wrong about the weather in Minneapolis because it’s chilly in Knoxville today and additionally, my dad said something that I haven’t bothered to verify–Heh.” Priceless.
And naturally, Father of Putz was wrong — the temperature in Knoxville exceeded 90 four times last month.
Now, if you’ve got a Blue Dog in your district, go make his or her life a living hell.