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July 22, 2010

Should Liberals be Giving Obama A Break? Part III
Posted by Michael Cohen

In response to my call for the left to lay off the criticism of Obama, Shadi Hamid makes the following observation:

The Left wants to feel that Obama is on their side, fighting for what they believe on, independent of whether or not that leads to tangible policy/legislative successes. If he can't deliver, fine, but at least put in some effort and say it like you mean it (see public option). Do I have a strong opinion on the public option, as a policy? No. Do I know anyone who has a strong opinion on the public option, as policy? Maybe, but only a few. Do I know anyone who has a strong opinion on the public option, as a signal and as an idea? Yes.

I really like Shadi and I agree with much of what he writes on the Middle East, but I think this is just wrong on a number of levels. The notion that signals or dog whistles to the left should be more important than actual accomplishments (like passing legislation that provides health insurance for 30 million Americans) is crazy to me. By this notion, Obama should have fought for the public option - as a signal to the left - even if it risked undermining the entire effort at comprehensive health care reform. 

While I suppose this would have made some folks happy, what would that have meant for actual Americans suffering from lack of health insurance? Every years tens of thousands of Americans die because they don't have health insurance. Those are the people the the left quite reasonably claims they are fighting for - the notion that their needs should be secondary to the "signal" that would be sent to liberals by fighting for a public option is borderline amoral. For Shadi to say that failure is "fine" . . . well actually that's not fine.

I supported Barack Obama, not because I cared one iota for the public option, but because I thought Obama would be able to pass important progressive legislation, which is exactly what he did in husbanding all of his political capital to pass comprehensive health care reform. I would be willing to venture that the vast majority of people who voted for Obama could care less about the public option; I'm pretty positive that is true of the 40 million Americans who currently don't have health insurance.

That there are folks on the left who dismiss Obama's accomplishment because he didn't fight hard enough for a public option (which had no chance of passing and in the grander scheme of things wouldn't have made a huge difference) shows how out of touch they may actually be with own constituency. Indeed it is striking that Shadi is standing on principle over an issue (the public option) that he acknowledges he doesn't have a strong, informed opinion about.

We sometimes seem to forget sometimes that politics is not an end in itself. Winning an election only matters so far as how you utilize the political power you've gained to affect public policy decision-making. If you're a progressive it's about using the power government to help those who need a helping hand or correct inefficiencies in the free market. That's what this imperfect health care legislation has done.

To achieve that goal there are compromises that must be made along the way. For liberals to not acknowledge that reality or give short shrift to accomplishments that help working and middle class Americans because they don't line up perfectly with their ideological preferences . . . well that just strikes me as a rather naive way to think about American politics.

(Let me also add, for the record, that none of this is meant to suggest that left should not hold Obama's feet to the fire when he screws up or fails to adhere to progressive values. My blogging on Afghanistan is a testament to that belief. We should and we must criticize - nothing could be worse than if the left become cheerleaders for the Administration. But we must also acknowledge and praise victories and temper our criticism with an acknowledgment of basic political realities).

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I'M PROUD OF YOU LABOR!. Keep standing up. The lives and health of all the American people and the World are in serious jeopardy.

Further, 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.

It's over. Tell congress to get the healthcare Merchants of death and injury out of the American peoples lives for good. 2010 is about THE PUBLIC OPTION!

And that CORRUPT! UNDEMOCRATIC! filibuster must GO! NOW!

Alan Grayson Honors The Dead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV9TRoYMtjs&feature=player_embedded

Alan Grayson on Healthcare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpQ2MNaSDo&feature=player_embedded

Ron Sparks HealthCareReform http://youtu.be/kqlBFRJh4Cw

John Garamendi - The Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyBTEke68aQ&feature=player_embedded

I want to commend all of you for working so hard and being so strong at helping the whitehouse and congress begin to address our U.S. and Global healthcare crisis. You have been AWESOME! my fellow Americans and peoples of the World. America and the World is better and safer for it. My greatest pride is the knowledge that I am one of you. And that you really get it. You really understand the importance of it all.

There are some potentially very good things in the healthcare legislation. Especially with the reconciliation fix’s. The Democrats, Bernie Sanders and the Whitehouse did a GREAT! job of fighting to produce the best healthcare legislation that they could. They have earned all our strong support. And we should give it to them.

But it was your relentless pressure and hard work that made the difference. Whatever good comes from this healthcare legislation, America and the peoples of the World will have each of you to thank. You were smart, creative, courageous and relentless. You fought together for the best legislation possible. And when you had to, you fought alone. No matter who stumbled and fell you continued to push and forge ahead. Fighting for the lives and health of the American people and the World. YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR-SELVES :-)

It may come to pass that future generations will look back on us and say that we were ALL Americas Greatest Generations. And that healthcare reform was our finest hour. You should be proud of our leaders President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the many other Democratic and independent fighters for the people in congress. They proved them-self worthy of the leadership of a GREAT! PEOPLE.

But we are not done yet. This was just the beginning of healthcare reform, not the end. WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, ARE NOT! divided on healthcare legislation. The vast majority of you have been consistently crystal clear that this legislation does not go far enough. You want a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. And you want it NOW!

YOU MUST NOT ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

WE THE PEOPLE have been crystal clear that we want an end to dependence on for-profit healthcare and the for-profit proxies called private for non-profit healthcare. The American people want the CHOICE! of a strong Government-run Public Option to replace their need or dependence on healthcare providers whose primary motivation is profit. Rather than providing the highest quality, easiest accessible and most affordable medically necessary healthcare possible. This is what the rest of the developed World has. And the American people want it too. They want healthcare ASSURANCE! Not, for-profit health insurance. And they want it NOW!

Now is the time to continue the push for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone that wants it on day one. Rationally it’s clear what we have to do to get this done. SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATS that supported you with a Public Option choice, and REMOVE as many republicans as you can. Not one republican in congress was willing to step across the isle to support a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. NOT ONE! Let no candidate prevail this November that does not support a Strong Government-run Public Option.

47,000 AMERICANS die each year from lack of healthcare. 120,000 die from treatable illness that don’t die in other developed countries. Hundreds of thousands of you are dieing from medical accidents in a rush to profit. And Millions of you are injured. Millions more are driven into bankruptcy. All for the privilege of paying two to three times as much as any other people in the developed world for healthcare. HOGWASH!

Additionally, tens of thousands of you and your children were killed and millions sickened and injured from a terror attack with H1N1 (swine flu). Released on the American people and the World by the for-profit healthcare industry. All in an attempt to panic and frighten you into accepting the oxymoronic criminal enterprise of private for-profit healthcare (The most costly, deadly, dangerous, and disgraceful product sold in America). H1N1 is still sickening people and killing them. Especially children, the young and the middle aged. And there will be a third wave. These are the terrorist you need to worry about the most. Even the so-called international terrorist would not do something so INSANE! But greed driven medical profiteers would and did.

Apparently as far as republicans in GOVERNMENT are concerned, YOU! my fellow Americans – CAN JUST DROP DEAD! Including their own family members. Fools!... Hundreds of thousands of you, and possibly millions of you will die from the long-term effects of your infection and poisoning with H1N1.

So my fellow Human Beings. Rest-up, Take good care of the basics (Balanced nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and POSITIVE emotional supports). Then wade back into the FIGHT! for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. Drug re-importation, Abolishment or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. You must take back control of your healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. You MUST do it NOW! This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings. I’m glad to know of you. And proud to be one of you.

See you on the battle field.

Sincerely

jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

The problem with your argument, Michael, is that it only works with issues where Obama got results. Sure, he got what was gettable on health care and FinReg and wound up with pretty good bills to sign, but what about climate change? Getting what he can won't amount to much, if anything. And what's the follow-up strategy? Compromise for 60 votes next year in a Senate with 47 Republicans?

Obama didn't become president by doing get-out-the-vote a little better than the other guy. He did it by changing the dynamic of presidential campaigning, at least for one cycle. If he wants climate change legislation that's at least as progressive as health care was, he's going to have to change the game somehow. And his behavior on all issues this year suggests that he either doesn't know how to do that or hasn't got the stomach to try.

It's also worth pointing out that liberals' preference for the "public option" wasn't about standing for "principle" at the expense of people. I think a public option is probably a good thing in part because it would help "actual Americans suffering from lack of health insurance" gain access to more affordable care.

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