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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!"

From the piece that everyone's talking about:
Then there are the president’s big strategic decisions. Of these, devoting the first year to healthcare is well known and remains a source of heated contention. Less understood is the collateral damage it caused to unrelated initiatives.
I understand why a new Democratic president would want to do health care during his first year: FDR proved that you can do the biggest of the Big Things you want to do during the honeymoon phase. The second year is another election year for Congress, which means that the congresscritters will be even more skittish than usual.

But health care, it turns out, is not one of those Big Things you can do right away. Democrats slip into the White House these days only when the Republicans totally screw up the economy. Which means that the economy is the only issue that the public will want the president to address.

We can reduce this to an axiom -- a warning against one of the classic blunders:

A Democratic president must not tackle health care during the first year.


File that axiom next to the other classic blunder-alarums: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" and "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line." I don't see any Sicilians skulking around, but the Asia thing is really good advice right now.
Comments:
With the history of failure that has accompanied any health care bill for Obama and preceding Presidents you would think that it just might be because the "health care" the government wants to "provide" isn't wanted by the American people. Just a clue there.

Lonni
 
I guess we can sum this up with one bumpersticker: It's the JOBS stupid!

FembotsForObama
 
The public was desperately looking to the new leadeship to stand in their corner. Healthcare costs and prohibitive measures were the key for driving that need. However, after viewing the "sausage making" that went in to getting it even out of committees, the public rightly became enraged.

Had Obama stood up and argued on behalf of the public rather than handing this off to a group in congress who had shrugged off their past responsibilites while playing kissy face with the special interests, he might have emerged a hero.

Instead, we are faced with a wishy washy tapdancer who has singlehandly turned the nation back into the hands of the GOP.

Whatever "reform" comes out of this bill if it ever sees the light of day is not exactly what was on the menu in terms of what the public had originally ordered. A sense of fair play.
 
I have to laugh a little.

So many people seem to think that using this or that argument, or rhetorical tactic, would win the day.

From experience, I tend to doubt that.

In fact, I think it is quite clear that had Obama proceeded firmly in whichever way you think he should, he would have substantially the same political result as now-- a lot of brickbats hurled at his head, and little progress. Sure, he could have kept this or that smallish advocacy faction happier than they are now, but in terms of moving the public debate and getting a bill, not so much.

It's the same on this HCR as on the economic recovery. Whatever your wet-dream killer tactic is, it wouldn't have worked (as much as it made some happy, it would have made others-- more of them-- far more unhappy).

He has chosen his particular hodgepodge of tactics because he is in a mine field otherwise known as our legislative system. Bolding rushing anywhere would have gotten him blown up, instead of lightly bleeding from the seeping flesh wounds from shrapnel he's received.

Was there some better way to negotiate the mine field? Easy to say when you're safely off the field.

And the fact is that our dysfunctional HCS is one of the things most responsible for our growing lack of competitiveness in the world, and why companies benefit from outsourcing their labor force.

BHO has been handed a very deep pile to deal with, and so he was more or less forced to deal with perhaps 5 to 10 times what any average president deals with, from and before day one.

Two failed wars, a broken economy, a failed health care system, emerging nuclear threats around the world-- any ONE of these would have been a titanic challenge. That they were all there, and urgent, creates an impossible presidency quite apart from whoever holds the office.

And the president is quite inferior in power to the Congress (he's Article II, they're Article I.), especially 41 of them of the type we now have. (And at least 6 to 10 on the Dem side as well.)

XI
 
But if he would just show them the middle finger once in awhile it may make us feel a little better served.
 
XI, he could have told Congress he wanted certain bills passed as provided by him as issues of immediate national security and that if they failed to do so he would issue executive orders to achieve the same end. Naturally, he would have to sell his actions to the public on prime time TV. I'm thinking here, in particular, of emergency measures for handling the sub prime mortgage crisis, and in the process maintaining real executive office control over who gets bailout money, and of, say, temporarily nationalising any financial institution showing signs of failure etc. Let's be clear, the legislature did not stop Bush from passing any number of executive orders, many of them in secret. And, last I looked, the US was still in a state of national emergency (perhaps even with continuity of government). Obama was never going to do anything because he was bought and paid for long ago. He could have done plenty, Congress be damned. He chose not to.
 
Oh, the excuse making for Obama is so fucking tedious. Obama is the worst Democratic president since Buchanan.

Yes, he has a lot to deal with. That's why a guy who literally had no accomplishments to his name had no business running the corrupt, divisive campaign that he ran. He was never up to the challenge and is doing a substantially worse job than any of the other candidates would have done. He's an egocentric moron who has never shepherded legislation that he prizes through any legislature and so now, at a critical time in American history, we have the stupidest, fucking Democrat in 150 years in the Oval Office unable to get anything done that needs done for the economy and the people. Anyone of the Democratic nominees would have been a significant improvement on this Reaganite asshole.
 
The HCR was more for Obama to be able to say,"Take that Bill Clinton!"
then to address any problems facing the people.
Sort of like Bush going into Iraq to show up daddy.
If he wasn't a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Finance he would have come out and addressed the nation with about getting our financial house in order with strict new regulations first then tackle the other problems America faces.
then any time some republican butt munch opened his pie hole Obama should have jammed the 8 years of Bush mismanagement down it.
Screw bi-partisanship.
 
A little shaky in relevance to the most recent post, but here goes.

At first I thought history would wind up comparing him to Nixon, then I thought Johnson, then Hoover.

Now, I think they might wind up comparing his presidency to that of this guy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_G._Harding
 
"Anyone of the Democratic nominees would have been a significant improvement on this Reaganite asshole."

Amen.
 
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/clueless/?src=twt&twt=NytimesKrugman

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/

can it be clearer ?
 
It is easy to personify the failures of the Democratic Party, the structural idiocies of the Senate, and the vast corrupt influence of the money powers, of as the doings of one man you find to be in bad odor. However that is intellectually lazy.

Truman's EO nationalizing the mines was overturned as unConstitutional because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify an existing law or further the execution of a law enacted by Congress. The suggestion here that BO could have done what needed to be done by normal EO is without foundation. Especially given the ideological shift to the right on the court in the recent past. Perhaps it could have been accomplished using the dire emergency powers, wherein the president asserts unlimited, unfettered and unreviewable power to do everything, but that is a most radical and dangerous path on which to travel. We had a little of that already with regard to CIC powers during wartime, and that framework has proven disastrous.

The failed banks were not seized per normal takeover provisions because they could NOT be seized, lest their true level of insolvency and bankruptcy be revealed. The FDIC is already teetering on the edge of being bankrupt; it could not make good on some trillions more in losses if the largest banks' balance sheets were marked to market, instead of to model.

Had BO gone full throttle for single payer out of the gate, as I guess some would have thought best (and it is the obvious best choice for reform, I agree), he would not have gotten a single extra GOP vote, and would have lost many Democrat votes in the Congress. It would have put steroids into the cries of government takeover and imminent socialism. BO and Democrats would have been more attacked, more obstructed, there would probably have been riots in the streets, and there would still have been no bill.

This is the inevitable calculus when you have senators from insurance companies instead of states within the Democratic caucus, a unified opposition party willing to absolutely obstruct, and big money control of the media to protect big money's profits in the health care sector (and their helpful obstructing party).

The only benefit would be the approval of the left, and a cleaner, less compromised message for the mid-terms, but one that probably would not sell even so.

Maybe failure after fighting the good fight is more laudable, but it would still be failure.

XI
 
XI -- "The failed banks were not seized per normal takeover provisions because they could NOT be seized, lest their true level of insolvency and bankruptcy be revealed. The FDIC is already teetering on the edge of being bankrupt; it could not make good on some trillions more in losses if the largest banks' balance sheets were marked to market, instead of to model."

And now the country is in a better position because big banks have been allowed to mark their under water holdings "to fantasy"? As if there will never be a day of reckoning? As if all this can slide and we can inflate our way out of it? Sure, there would have been disruptions in the market, but as Karl Denninger points out, the Fed was pulling liquidity out of the market while telling the Prez it was on the brink of collapse. It was a con job.

And it is hard to see how the use of EO's to refuse to bail out CDS-CDO markets -- gambling trades with no ties to the real economy -- would have been illegal or inappropriate, or that the Supreme Court would argue that "yes, you must pay taxpayer funds to corporate fraudsters. (On that score we might also note that the Military Commissions Act 2006 was passed specifically to get around an unfavourable Supreme court decision on holding terrorist suspects.) Let's be clear, Barclay's UK bank had a CDS exposure greater than the entire UK GDP. That's crap, and no amount of financial book juggling can sustain it other than to do what we do now: lie to the people about bullshit derivatives and inflated property markets and hope to make it right by declaring those paper debts to be real losses and telling ordinary workers that they have to work in poverty for thirty years and forgoe schools and hospitals just to pay for this crap. Obama would have had the US population onside all the way if he had kicked these banking assholes to the kerb. Throwing a few of them in jail would also have been nice.
 
My name is Inigo Montoya...

Thank you XI, you saved me from replying to Lori's misguided ilk. I've always thought the excessive personal hate for GWB actually undermined the opposition to some of his inane policies. Strange but BO has being saying the same recently..."focus on policies not personalities". Hmmm, I guess we like the underdog, even when he is taking a disingenuous dive like an Italian soccer player.
 
xyz, YES. Or at least arguably yes.

We have a Potemkin banking system, which APPEARS to be relatively sound, and since confidence by the people is critical, sure, I think we're better off papering over the losses than admitting them.

Frankly, given the interlocking nature of all the holders of those instruments backing up all the others, to force the losses to be 'realized' and then to act on those losses would probably cost a hell of a lot more than the titanic monies already dedicated to addressing the (optics of the) problem.

Yes, it's what Japan did, and it wasn't necessarily a GOOD result, but in their opinion, and as is possibly true, a less bad result than the alternative. I don't consider the Japanese PTB stupid, and this is what they chose when they had banks that were massively bankrupt.

XI
 
Lonni is on some other planet, Americans absolutely want health care reform poll after poll have consistently shown that and the Democratic election results in November 2010 were absolute proof of that.

As far as I see, it was not just the President that went wrong, the whole of the Democratic Party went wrong as well.

The administration went wrong because not only did it believe the incorrect notion that it had 60 votes in the Senate, they acted as though the 60 votes were a given and that this "battle" was going to be over in the same length of time it took to pass the Stimulus bill. In terms of the opportune time to pass health care, why not right away when you have 60 votes.

Your opposition sits across the floor, your enemies sit behind you. The Senate is full of people who want to be President, Vice President, anything else other than Senator. There are always going o be Senators from your own Party that absolutely hate the idea that whoever a Democratic President is - it should be them. 15 Democratic Senators signed up to a "blue dog" agenda shortly after the Stimulus bill to control and limit President Obama, they have not gone away.

The Democratic Party failed to remember the lessons from when President Clinton tried it. Whatever the plan was, it was going to be evil and "socialist". The Summer health care fiasco was a Republican dream that helped birth the tea-baggers and helped renew a near dead Republican Party. It gave frit to the group of 15, who slowed down things more.It also meant that what was popular in the bill got cut back more and more, resulting in a bill, that yes because of the subsidies remains good, but is deeply unpopular.

The length of time Congress has spent on this bill has also contributed to its decline in popularity. The public simply lack patience for it. There are other things that need doing AS well.

The irony of this is that the Democratic Senators most at risk of defeat are the bluest of blue dogs, maybe they should learn, PDQ, divided Parties lose elections.
 
don't do health care during your first year?!

i hope that's snark. the real lesson is don't make health care complicated. medicare for all is the best solution, but medicare for the uninsured would have been a good first step.
 
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