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More healthcare defeatism from Krugman

DCblogger's picture

In his latest column Paul Krugman makes clear, once again, that he does not know the difference between health insurance and health care.

Once again, all together now, WE NEED HEALTHCARE, NOT HEALTH INSURANCE!

Krugman

There’s every reason to believe that a program that extends universal coverage to the nonelderly would soon become equally popular. Consider the case of Massachusetts, which passed a state-level plan for universal coverage two years ago.

The Massachusetts plan has come in for a lot of criticism. It includes individual mandates — that is, people are required to buy coverage, even if they’d prefer to take their chances. And its costs are running much higher than expected, mainly because it turns out that there were more people without insurance than anyone realized.

The Massachusetts system is exactly what we want to avoid.

Mandated insurance is just a subsidy to the insurance industry, it does not produce health care.

Back to Krugman:

But it’s better to have an imperfect universal health care plan than none at all — and the only way to get a universal health care plan passed soon is to inoculate it against Harry-and-Louise-type claims that people will be forced into plans “designed by government bureaucrats.”

Wow, Krugman really never learns does he? Choice is exactly what the Clinton planned offered and the insurance companies shot it down.

HR 676, Medicare for All, has 91 cosponsors. Three of its supporters, Conyers, Frank, and Reyes, are committee chairs. Why does Krugman fancy himself a better judge of what is practical than 91 members of the House of Representatives? Why does Krugman fancy himself a better judge of what is practical than the US Conference of Mayors? Seriously, Krugman and every other health care defeatist owe the rest of us an answer to those questions.

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

he is advocating some half way measure such as Massachusets that leaves the health insurance industry in place.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Was MA-style with a better safety net for the working poor and lower middle-class. Sounds to me like Krugman is likeminded, and like HRC using as a stepping stone toward single payer.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

so I can't join the discussion, despite my powerful desire to do so.

does anyone else have this problem with the NYTimes in particular. I have it all the time. Drives me nuts.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

more like a diversion.
Hillary's plan mandated that employers provide health care, but had not individual mandates.

but I return to what I said in my posts, health care defeatists own the rest of us an explanation as to why they are a better judge of what is practical than John Conyers.

leah, I don't have any advice, save that maybe a differnt newspaper has the same column.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

but as I recall it was an employer based program. I do know that it mandated that employers cover their workers. IT has a lot of other features, but it was not nearly as good as single payer.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

HRC and Krugman argue that getting to universal first and then single payer will be more effective than going for the whole enchilada. I'm not sure whether they're correct, but both are clearly more aggressive about universal than Obama is.

I remain pretty sure she's talking mandates for all:

Clinton said she might be willing to have workers' wages garnisheed if they refuse to buy health insurance.

The New York senator has criticized Obama for pushing a health plan that she says would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified how she would enforce 100 percent enrollment. But when pressed during a television interview, she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."

Clinton said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. Under her plan, she said, health care "will be affordable for everyone" because she would limit premium payments "to a low percent of your income."

Obama has said he would require parents to buy health insurance for children, and possibly fine them if they refused, but he would not insist that all adults buy insurance.

Submitted by lambert on

RL calls, but--

The subject line is my interpretation of the point that DCBlogger is trying to make.

There's a whole genre of content where pundits define the limits of what is possible (and that would be the Overton Window, yes)?

The usual suspects do it, the A list does it, it's the whole basis of the HCAN't campaign, and it's what Krugman is doing here.

Well, why are we accepting that it's up to these people to define the limits of what's possible? If we do that, we're licked before we start!

In fact, in post after post, what DCBlogger has been pointing to is actual grass roots (i.e., not HCAN't Astroturf) organizations coming out in support of single payer.

Why aren't we looking to them to define the bounds of what's possible? Eh?

And why in the name of sweet suffering Jeebus are we allowing the FKD's platform, which is grotesquely bad, define those limits? The FKD platform -- oddly, or not, very much along the lines of HCAN't -- drones that health care is "a shared responsibility between employers, workers, insurers, providers and government":

Now I understand it completely! It’s shared!

The insurance companies have the responsibility of denying care so they can profit!

You, on the other hand, have the responsibility of getting care so you can live!

It’s shared!

It’s all so clear!

There is no reason, no reason at all, to settle for what we're being told is possible here, so that ten years from now we're in the position, again, of asking "Please sir, may I have some more?"

I'm completely with DCBlogger on this; "defeatist" is exactly the right word.

Or do you have another word for giving up before the battle is truly joined?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

First, not only did HRC's healthcare plan have individual mandates (this is what Obama Harry & Louised her on), but it also provided mechanisms for assistance to the poor to pay for it, insurance cost controls, and most importantly a public alternative. It was not exclusively employer based. People happy with their coverage could keep it (this was designed to lessen the fears of those people already covered over any uncertainty created by a new system), others could either buy it through insurers or the Government.

It was not as good as single payer. I saw it as a step towards single payer by starting with universal coverage - the idea being that once everyone has healthcare, it becomes much harder to take it away to control costs, forcing any cost controls to come from elsewhere, like say, moving to single payer.

Second, it doesn't really matter because what Clinton proposed - similar to Edwards' proposal - was designed to deal with what they believed the political realities are. What progressives, activists, and advocates, including Krugman, should be doing is what DCBlogger is arguing for - working to change what the political realities are. I think that's where we should be. Instead of figuring out what is or is not politically feasible, work to build support for the best option which will help make it politically feasible or at the very least move the discussion in the right direction.

As for the Democratic Platform, I understand that this was the compromise position. It only got this good because Clinton and her delegates pushed for it. If Obama had gotten his way, it would've been even weaker. Indeed, the platform discussion and compromise reminded me of how Obama dealt with healthcare in Illinois.* From his weaker plan to his Harry & Louise style ads, Obama has made it pretty clear that whatever his domestic priorities are (and I confess to be confused on exactly what they are), healthcare reform in any large or meaningful way ain't going to be it and so it's going to be left up to activists to get it done without his leadership and possibly with his interference (consider that Jim Cooper is one of his healthcare guys).

* Here's how the article describes what happened in Illinois:

The bill originally called for a "Bipartisan Health Care Reform Commission" to implement a program reaching all 12.4 million Illinois residents. The legislation would have made it official state policy to ensure that all residents could access "quality healthcare at costs that are reasonable." Insurers feared that language would result in a government takeover of healthcare, even though the bill did not explicitly say that.

By the time the legislation passed the Senate, in May 2004, Obama had written three successful amendments, at least one of which made key changes favorable to insurers.

Most significant, universal healthcare became merely a policy goal instead of state policy - the proposed commission, renamed the Adequate Health Care Task Force, was charged only with studying how to expand healthcare access. In the same amendment, Obama also sought to give insurers a voice in how the task force developed its plan.

Submitted by lambert on

... on my cell phone, so it's all good, right?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Health care is the responsibility a government should have for all its people. Absolutely, we should stop negotiating with ourselves. Krugman is wrong here. Having said that, I do object to the notion that anyone, Krugman included, should be quiet because otherwise they illegitimately fancy themselves a better judge of strategy/policy/progress than elected officials.

I fancy myself a better judge of both domestic and foreign policy than the majority of Congress and the administration over the last seven years, and a better judge of labor and contract law than the current Supreme Court. I think this is called being a citizen.

By all means, criticize Krugman for defeatism on the issue, but let's not get into the rightwing mental habit of deference to our betters.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I just think he should explain why he is a better judge than Conyers. I think Krugman and the rest of the health care defeatists need to at least acknowledge the very serious political muscle that is behind single payer. This is just a bunch of "heathcare activists", this is 91 members of the House of Representatives, the US Conference of Mayors, and many many other political actors. That muscle needs to be acknowledged in any honest discussion of the issue.

Submitted by gob on

in the medium term. There are no certainties in politics, but that's my opinion after reading some history. I used to believe we'd have to get to single payer via something like Hillary's plan. But after reading about the way things went with Medicare part C, aka Medicare Advantage, (private insurers offer Medicare coverage, at a higher cost to the taxpayer per person than standard Medicare, such a deal!), I'm convinced that the only way to get and keep universal health care is to get the private insurers out of the business. As long as they are there, they'll take advantage, if you will, of every Republican Congress to inject a private component at terms that will allow them to skim off the healthiest, wealthiest people in the pool, leaving the government to pay for the most costly beneficiaries. This is not financially sustainable.

The only way to keep them from doing this is to eliminate the health insurance market altogether. That's why H.R.676 includes money for retraining people displaced from the health insurance industry.

Policy not party!

Michael G's picture
Submitted by Michael G on

I think that gob and DCblogger should put down your pipes and come back to reality. Eliminate the insurance industry? Dream on! While single-payer, as Krugman wrote, is the ideal, and it may be a good idea to advocate and fight for it, "defeatist" rhetoric serves no useful purpose. You may think that "incremental" change is defeatist and foolhardy but when faced with the realities of the opposition (both political and industry), and the economy, this approach is more sensible.
[I believe that Hillary's plan in the 1990s was pretty much what Alain Enthoven advocated in an article (two?) I think in the New England Journal of Medicine. He continues to write on the subject.]

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

John Conyers thinks this can be done. 90 of his colleagues think this can be done. The US Conference of Mayors thinks that this can be done. What do you know about American politics that they don't?

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

--Canada has 2ndary insurers for example. It just eliminates the stranglehold the insurance industry has on healthcare.

But so what if it did?

You don't have to have insurance to buy food or water in this country, or to purchase heat for your house, or clothing. Insurers inserted themselves between us and healthcare, but there is nothing intrinsic in that status. And there are plenty of other things to insure.
And just because that is the way it has been done for a long time, doesn't mean the country owes the insurance industry their hunk of that pie. Will it be hard to get their claws off that pie? Of course. And it is also ludicrous to expect employers to provide health insurance--that just obscures the fatcat position of the insurance industry.
Many mining towns in this country used to be company towns, you could only shop at the company store. Yes it was great for the mines, but they got over losing that status--and mining did not cease. The miners did not owe the mines to shop at company stores, either--any more than citizens of the USA owe the insurance industry a continued seat at the healthcare table.

I'm disappointed Krugman doesn't see that--perhaps his protected status as (I assume) tenured professor, and syndicated columnist, buys him a security that many of us can only dream of.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

And ties them all together. He argues that single-payer universal coverage is the desirable goal

On the sheer economic merits…single-payer would be more efficient than a system that preserves a role for private insurance companies.

and also that an incremental approach is both possible and desirable

But it’s better to have an imperfect universal health care plan than none at all

and from the standpoint of practical achievement it actually is a necessity, key to moving the process forward:

the only way to get a universal health care plan passed soon is to inoculate it against Harry-and-Louise-type claims….

Some call this approach “defeatism”, or “negotiating with ourselves.” However, incrementalism has been a very effective tactical approach for the VRWC over the last 40 years, so it seems insupportable to argue that a succession of half-measures cannot bring goals to or near to full attainment. It is possible, I suppose, that progressives are simply so unskilled or incompetent that they cannot use the same tactical approach as effectively as wingers, but I am not persuaded; call me a perennial optimist.

The argument is made that progressives should demand universal single-payer, “Medicare For All”, and accept no substitute. But an all-or-nothing tactic has not been working. That HR676 (the goal of which, to be clear, I support without reservation) has 91 sponsors seems like a positive, until you recognize that the total is far short of the 218 votes needed for passage and is less than 40% of the Democratic caucus. Even if passed in the House this session, it would surely be obstructed in the Senate where no companion bill currently exists. Even if passed by both chambers it would be certainly vetoed by Bush and there is no chance what so ever of a veto override. Other than that, looking good.

Another concern for Krugman is that the impetus for UHC will be overwhelmed by other exigencies, and this is certainly a real possibility. It will fall on the shoulders of progressives to find a way to communicate the advantages in ways that are clear and comprehensible, and also to determine when to compromise in favor of partial success rather than hold fast to an approach that continues to fail. As progressives, we will have to do better than we have done in the past.

But it is Krugman’s initial point, not addressed yet here, to which I want to draw attention. He places it in primacy, a position with which I fully agree:

First, the Democrats have to win the election — and win it by enough to face down Republicans, who are still, 42 years after Medicare went into operation, denouncing “socialized medicine.”

“First”, indeed. The only path to single payer universal health care goes through a Democratic administration paired with a strongly Democratic congress. With a Republican president, regardless of congressional composition, there will be no motion towards improved health care in this country - period.

Step 1. Remove the Republicans from office.

Regardless of how one sees the debate unfolding, the first step is installing a Democrat in the White House and as many Democrats as possible in both houses of Congress. Those Democrats will be incrementally empowered, and better able to push many progressive causes including universal health care, by a larger vote of confidence from the electorate.

It is important to all progressive causes that the Democrats win big, and that means the largest possible presidential popular vote along with an Electoral College victory and the election of as many new Democratic members of Congress as possible. A vote for the Democratic ticket, top to bottom, is a vote to move towards UHC; anything less than that top to bottom vote will be - well - something less.

Krugman’s proposition isn’t defeatist, and it certainly isn’t self-negotiation. It is a practicable approach that offers a real opportunity for positive change, a step in the right direction that will lead to eventual victory far faster than continued legislative failure and retaining the White House for Republicans.

[Prophylactic: I am solidly in favor of Medicare-for-all single-payer government run universal health care. Further, I support fully those who favor HR 676 and encourage them to continue to be forceful advocates of that approach; pushing the Overton Window is always worthwhile. I just don’t think that, functionally, it is going to work out that way.]

Submitted by hipparchia on

[Prophylactic: I am solidly in favor of Medicare-for-all single-payer government run universal health care. Further, I support fully those who favor HR 676 and encourage them to continue to be forceful advocates of that approach; pushing the Overton Window is always worthwhile. I just don’t think that, functionally, it is going to work out that way.]

hr 676 is wonderfuller than sliced bread, knock yourselves out trying to get some, bio and krugman will just sit there on the sidelines and whine about how it'll never get off the ground.

with support like that, who needs opposition?

and the incrementalism -- piffle. if you were serious about the incremental approach, you'd start with expanding existing medicare to other groups, say everyone 50 and older now, then all adults the next year or two, then add kids. skip all that other crap.

this keep the existing industry, keep medicare, keep medicaid, keep fehbp, develop a system that parallels fehbp, develop health insurance exchanges [these aren't going to be modeled after the ny stock, are they?], then "allow" it all to "compete" and may the best plan win! ponies for all!eleventyone!

and you think the insurance market is a mess now.

if you and paul krugman really thought medicare for all was best, you'd both be putting all your efforts into convincing the doubters of the merits, rather than spending all this time convincing your fellow liberals and progressives to settle for yet one more gigantic corporate welfare program.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

wouldn’t do to encourage the spreading of my seed and all; dangerous thoughts, never know when they might get somebody in trouble.

If I am wrong, and HR676 or the like should soon sail to success I shall - with great joy and all alacrity - apologize and rejoice. If I am right, however, and fail to follow my own mind, I should be very sorry to have abandoned myself. I dare say you must feel the same.

A great pity the progressive community isn't large enough to allow more than one approach, or tolerant enough to stand for more than one opinion to be voiced without condemnation of character or intent. Would that it were; we should, I think, be much more effective, perhaps even successful - for a change.

It is abundantly clear that total health care costs would be the same or lower in the US with single-payer government administered universal care, just on the overhead savings alone, and future costs would be diminished by systematic cost containment opportunities. However, no argument yet presented has persuaded a majority of either the Congress or the electorate of that simple truth. If you feel you can do so, please have at it. This argument from a business competitiveness perspective by the Council on Foreign Relations may be helpful.

I do not think it will happen all in one sudden swoop, not any time soon, but it may be possible to achieve it within the next couple of presidential terms by taking one chunk of the population at a time – and assuming that a Democrat is in the White House that whole time.

Were it in my gift, I would start the incrementalism with children, initially the unborn. Difficult, I think, for self-styled protectors of all things fetal to deny universal perinatal care, and health care dollars could not be better spent. From there, SCHIP should be expanded to all under the age of 18; suffer the little children, investment in the future, etc. Since we already have Over-65 Medicare, only those in the middle would still need to be included. Unfair, really, with all children, mothers-to-be, and the elderly covered, to deny health care equality to the rest of us.

But what do I know. Should probably just STFU and take out the garbage.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i thought it a legitimate comparison. no metaphor unwanted, i say!

tolerance for more than one opinion, sure, i has it, but tolerance for willful stupidity?

we've been incrementalizing our way to universal health care since 1945 [before that, actually, iirc]. medicare, medicaid, schip, they're all good, but at this pace we'll be incrementalizing our way backwards before long. oh... wait....

i'm with dcb, i'm convinced we can go from here to medicare-for-all in one swell foop, and that a significant % of the population wants it to happen now. far be it from me to gratuitously go around calling people stoopid, and your self-effacements notwithstanding, it's clear that you're not a stupid person, so tell me: what piece[s] of evidence would it take to convince you to leave your asymptotic path of incrementalism and market experiments and join us here on the dark side?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

what piece[s] of evidence would it take to convince you to leave your asymptotic path of incrementalism
Can't think of a single thing you have to offer that would change my mind - but I've already said that. Must be that willful stupidity again, the dumb part of me that has far more questions than answers about which tactic will be most productive. FYI, running down my character - "if you and paul krugman really thought medicare for all was best" - isn't even a little bit attractive.

So long as the asymptote closes on Unity, (heh, Glossary tag be damned), I'm going to be pleased with that trajectory versus any line that is a non-starter. Once the new congress and the new Democratic president take office, we'll see what can be done and how. For the next few months, any worthwhile engagement with healthcare initiatives needs to be fought at the House district and senatorial election level. At the presidential level, all that will be offered are platitudes.

If McCain wins, there will be no progress on health care, period.

Submitted by lambert on

... no reason that I can see why Medicare for All advocates should wait a single minute to push that issue. Under all scenarios, McCain included, the deal we get is better, though I grant it's better to deal with corrupt Democrats as opposed to outright criminal Republicans.

And I want to underline, again, the 91 reps in favor of HR 676 (single payer), and the local actions that DCB keeps posting on. I thought and think that the most sensible thing to do is focus on what they are doing, rather than focus on what, according to conventional wisdom, cannot be done.

The people that DCB is posting on are not standing on the sidelines, or whining, at all, eh? And good for them.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

So there's that. Advocating for UHC and opposing a Democratic presidency regardless of the candidate isn't cognitive dissonance, it is self-destructive defeatism of the worst sort - the kind that hurts other people. No one can legitimately claim to be fully committed to UHC while holding back support for putting a Democrat in the White House - any Democrat. Allow a Republican to keep that job and UHC is dead in the water.

No one writing here, least of all me, is telling HR676 advocates to wait or stop or hold back:

I support fully those who favor HR 676 and encourage them to continue to be forceful advocates of that approach

By all means, go get 'em.

I'd appreciate being given the same respect for my approaches to progressive issues...oh, wait...can't have that, any deviation from the local approved orthodoxy is to be condemned, anyone suggesting there may be other effective approaches has to be called stupid and whiny and relegated to the sidelines. Lockstep, people; get in line or get run over.

Especially Krugman, that defeatist. What anyone ever saw in him, I'll never know. Stupid. Whiny. Go stand on the sidelines, Paul, where you belong. And the fucking Democrats; goddamn them all. If we can just destroy the Democratic Party, especially the Democratic presidential candidate, then all will be well. John McCain will give us ponies. They'll be dead ponies, but still...as long as you don't mind the smell, they're kinda fun to kick around....

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

Can we get an update on your "Nancy Pelosi, Choosing Our Planet Over the Oil Companies" post?

Credit where credit is due, it looks like the Speaker backed our planet for a full eight days before choosing to side with the oil companies.

I'm really expecting great things from Pelosi once she gets the elections in November and the 2010 mid-terms behind her.

daily democrat's picture
Submitted by daily democrat on

Hurrah for everyone who advocates distinguishing means from ends. Surely we must give all respect to different points of view in debates about our means, but can we first agree our ends? Can we agree with DC blogger that we need healthcare, not health insurance?

I hope we can all agree that universal HEALTHCARE, for all aspects of the body and mind, from cradle to grave, is the goal we seek.

In terms of testing the various means to achieve that goal I submit that if a particular means doesn't satisfy the goal of making all effort and money spent towards healthcare actually profit the patients and the healthcare system and not some other end, then that means shouldn't be part of our healthcare system. Does the American health insurance industry, or any foreign health insurance industry, pass that test?

And a comment concerning the question of incrementalism. I feel that the universal idea present in the goal could not be served unless every move towards the goal itself served people of all ages and conditions. That, for me, would eliminate consideration of moves that phased in universal health care in exclusionary increments, whether by age exclusion, or any other exclusion. To me it is logically and practically impossible to reach a universal end via an exclusive means. Think of what the same mistake cost our country's Founding Mothers and Fathers.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Q. Can we agree with DC blogger that we need healthcare, not health insurance?

A. Yes.

Still, it's interesting to me that Krugman is being shamed here for taking the same position that Hillary was regularly praised for here. She was of the opinion that the best steps today were incremental, but a huge incremental leap -- from just Medicare today to 100% coverage, using a MA-style plan, ideally/presumably (I haven't read the details) with a better safety net for the working poor and lower middle-class than the MA plan has.

She might be right, she might be wrong. Hard to call it.

Would I prefer that we have leadership that would drive us toward progressive goals post-haste? Certainly, and Hillary is far bolder here and everywhere else than Obama, even if she falls short of my ideal. But the superdelegates will gnaw their own paws off before they'll lose face, so there's nothing we can do about it. Obama will push his weaker plan, and not very hard. What might actually come of it is hard to say, since he has shown no resolve about anything other than his own ineffable glory.

In defense of incrementalism, it's bitterly ironic how much "don't ask, don't tell" is lambasted. Without Clinton's policy, we don't have gays in the military today. True, it was an ultimately indefensible policy, and I believe that was by design: it got us off the dime and into a place where it became indefensible to limit equality, from a place where it was indefensible to attack those limits.

None of this is to say that Krugman and Hillary are right or wrong not to go straight to single payer -- always in motion is the future, as Yoda says. What I can say with little fear of being wrong, is we're going to need a ton of leverage over Obama to ever get him to push something as bold as Hillary's plan or to go the full monty.

Submitted by lambert on

1. Because Hillary supports incrementalism doesn't mean that Krugman has to.

2. If I trusted Obama not to throw me under the bus on an incremental solution, I might be for it. Of course, I don't, given the massive suckitude of the FKD platform, not to mention the Harry & Louise ads.

3. Regardless, it seems to me that our job is to shove the Overton window left, in a progressive direction. So, we can either say "Damn, this window is stuck" and stand back or we can apply more energy to the window. Since a health care system that is designed to create, like, health, instead of profit, really, truly, and literally is a life and death matter for many, I think it behooves us not to stand back.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

1. We don't have to agree with Krugman on incrementalism, but it's worth sorting out why the same approach that earned Hillary a lot of praise here makes Krugman a "defeatist." I wouldn't feel right about shaking my e-fist at Krugman (which, personally, I'm not) if I didn't reckon with that.

2. Yup. Mr. Phonebooth is running a "trust me" campaign while constantly unearning our trust. Gauche of us to notice, of course.

3. I'm not arguing against pushing that window hard toward where it belongs, which is single-payer. I'm totally for it, and I want it NOW. But if we don't iron our contradictions (see #1), we won't be giving the window a very honest shove.

Submitted by lambert on

... are different from those of a politician, and those, in turn, are different from those of a citizen or activist.

So, I can accept that Hillary has assessed the correlation of political forces correctly at the present time, and support her program as the best possible deal at the present time while still pressing pundits to change the correlation of forces. I don't see any contradiction at all in this.

In the same way, my responsibility as a citizen is quite different from that of a party activist, say. A party activist or functionary really should be pushing the party line, and advocating for their candidates, and for their candidate's policies as the best possible policies.

But that's not the duty of an ordinary citizen. I don't have any of those duties. I especially don't have any duty to be polite to party operatives, let alone deferential. As Atrios says: The only thing they understand is pain. So, if that's true, then that's what has to be done. We certainly did manage to inflict a good deal of pain on the Republicans, and it did -- I grant to a non-quantifiable extent -- pay off in 2006.

So, if the Dem leadership sucks on universal health care (let alone single payer), which they do, then we have to get their attention, in the ways that have been shown to work in the past (deference not being among them). These really are matters of life and death.

UPDATE Of course, there's another role for the party operative, and that's to figure out how to placate the crazies. Of course, for that to work, there have to be crazies. Eh? Anyone ever hear of a multi-layered architecture?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Batocchio's picture
Submitted by Batocchio on

Have you read Krugman's other pieces on health care? Or The Conscience of a Liberal? Of course he knows the difference betweeen health care and health insurance. Krugman's been one of the most prominent voices pointing out, for just one example, that the British system was rated better than the American one by the U.N. and cost 40% less. He's essentially arguing for Edwards' approach as a political strategy. It's fair to say that this specific column doesn't explain all of that, and doesn't highlight the difference between health care and health coverage, but you seem to ignore that even in this column, he extols the virtues of universal health care, and writes that "single-payer would be more efficient than a system that preserves a role for private insurance companies." He's talking about a political strategy in our current political climate, as he often has in the past. If you want to disagree with him on strategy, fine, but please take the time to consider his other writings and address them, or at least address all of what he says in this one column. Calling him a "defeatist" is pretty weak, especially since you seem to agree with him on several major points.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

It might seem like an obvious point that any liberal health reform enthusiast can agree with, but making that distinction between "health coverage" or health insurance and actual health care is fundamental to getting real change, and I for one welcome the fact that the Democrats, for once, put a broad plank in their platform that honors the distinction.

What that plank says, essentially, is that health care is a right, a universal one that in order to be realized has to be be guaranteed by the government.

The very worst imaginable way to try and move the Overton window to the left is to label anyone who doesn't want to sign on to a specific bill a "defeatist," or insufficiently committed, or all the other angry charges hurled at people who are clearly allies.

Most troubling to me, DCBlogger, was your inability to accurately portray what Krugman was saying. I had a completely different idea of what that might be based on your post than I did finally being able to read his column this morning. His reference to the Mass plan is only to point out that even a plan which has run into problems because making it universal with a mandate has led to problems in financing it is still popular to the point of mass support for not going back to no such plan. Don't think, though, that the Mass example won't be sighted as another example of the failure of government to be able to provide health care for all, despite the fact that it is an example of why single payer is the only practical solution to the increasing costs of health care.

Why might anyone doubt that John Conyers is some kind of seer whose pristine vision cannot be challenged? Well, how about the fact that he's been a congressman over decades in which health care reform has gone down to defeat again and again and again.

Moving the Overton window over is exactly what HCAN is all about. They have developed a fairly simple way to explain the need for profound change in the way we provide and finance health care, in straightforward non-wonk language, that allows individuals and organizations to begin to move the Overton window over to a position where government is not thought of as the problem, but as offering a possible solution, and it's a solution that doesn't rule out that along the way, single payer might become the preferred option.

That last point is what none of you who insist that any other approach than backing this particular bill is not to be for universal coverage seem unable to see.

By the way, for all you believers in the sanctity of your own purity on this, what kind of single payer do you have in mind? You are aware that even in those much vaunted other advanced industrial nations, there are wide variations in how health care is structured and financed. How many of you are aware of the various possibilities? How many of you bothered to watch the excellent Frontline that explored the various ways other countries do that? It's online; you can watch it there, or read the transcript. If I leave the link, how many of you will bother to inform yourself about the complexities of instituting single payer? I don't offer that as a reason not to have single payer, but it does cast some light on the question of whether or not putting all your bets on a single piece of legislation is the only way to go.

Mind you, I don't conceive of this as an either or situation. I don't see why the efforts of HCAN have to be conceived of as antithetical to the success of getting single payer as the next step. We are involved in a discussion now, a discussion that will be extended, during the next congress and administration, to the entirety of the American electorate. If McCain is President, there is no way that single payer will pass because he will veto it. If Obama is President, it will still be a struggle to be sure, but the only way to get it is for a majority of Americans, and a good sized one, to see that without fundamental structural change in our entire health care system, their own ability and that of their children to find affordable health care will continue to be undermined to the point of not having any.

What an organization like HCAN and a "pundit" like Krugman are trying to do is to advance that argument - the one for fundamental change that makes health care a right, and to the extent that private providers can be part of the system they must accept rigorous regulation by the government. If you didn't notice, Lambert, the HCAN option includes restrictions on all the ways that private insurers make their money.

I think extending Medicare to everyone is a step foward in argumentation, but that is exactly what the HCAN public option is.

Other liberals and progressives are not the enemy, and treating them as if they are is to guarantee the failure of any reform, that I promise you, all of you. I've seen the left do this to itself so many times, it makes me physically ill to think about it.

I hope to have a post on this eventually with more detail, but I have found that the HCAN website can be a valuable resource for opening up a discussion with those of my friends and colleagues in the film industry who want universal coverage but who have insurance they like and worry about single payer. Mark my words, please, mark my words: If you don't get those Americans who have insurance on the side of change, there will be no change.

hipparchia, I am deeply fond of you based on the wonderful way you've added to Corrente, and I usually agree with you on everything. But the people I'm talking about, who have some kind of insurance, hard won I can assure you, and are vulnerable both to no change but also to what they might think of as too much change, will not respond well to being told that they are being selfish, or standing in the way of history, or just don't get "it." Who would? Would you?

The only way to get real health care reform of the entire system is to find a way to talk to those Americans who worry about that change. And there are plenty of them, and when faced with actual change there will be even more who will want their questions answered. It's our job as active liberals who believe in universal health care to prepare ourselves for the battle ahead. We need all of us to become experts on the options, to be ready to parry the predictable attacks, and to know ahead of time how to make our appeal in the broadest possible way, without throwing out the baby, which is universality.

None of this means that individuals can't make the choice to push for single payer, or for this particular bill - go for it - take your best shot - but don't portray those working along side of you as betrayers of the cause. While HCAN works for universality, you can make your arguments that the best way to achieve that is with this particular bill; those arguments are not antithetic because they rely on shared underlying principles. Any of you who don't realize what a long, complicated haul this is going to be, think again, long and hard. If, during the process, enough organizations, enough unions, say, support Conyers and his legislation, then so-called choice won't be an issue. What both Krugman and HCAN are talking about is having a way forward that takes on the issue as one of the first to be tackled by a new Democratic congress and administration.

I'd also recommend that some of you rethink that FDP, or whatever it is, because there will be no health care reform without the full support of that party and the millions of people who are proud to call themselves Democrats. If you can't find a way to speak to them without insulting them, well, good luck, because you'll need it, to the thirteenth power.

Here's the link to Frontline's "Sick Around The World." Watch it on line; read the transcript, explore the links they provide.

Submitted by lambert on

Gutting the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law by passing FISA [cough] reform -- not an insult.

Calling bullshit on gutting the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law by passing [cough] refrom -- now that's an insult.

And that's before we get to the rules and bylaws committee, caucuses, and so on and so forth

As far as I'm concerned, the "Party formerly Known as Democratic" is a technically exact description.

I wish the Democrats were the party of Fannie Lou Hamer, or Harry Truman, or even the LBJ of the war on poverty, but they aren't. That was a long time ago. It's not true any more.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

You do know that the Democrats in 1964 squashed Hamer and the entire Mississippi delegation? Offered them a couple of token seats on the floor of the Convention is all, and in response the entire delegation refused and they were none of them seated. Is that the Democratic Party we should aspire to restore?

In eventual response, and a deep sense of guilt, the Democrats revised their procedures for 1968, made them more open, and got a free-for-all that eventually produced Hubert Humphrey and a sound Electoral College thumping. An even more equalitarian procedures selected George McGovern and produced an historic shellacking by the Republican Nixon as a result. Is that the Democratic Party, a series of losers, that we should seek to emulate?

The Democratic Party of LBJ was actually the Democratic Party of JFK's ghost. Johnson felt, however strangely, that he was an accidental president who owed an obligation to Kennedy and those who elected him, an solemn duty to follow Kennedy's proposals and push them through regardless of cost to the Party or to America as a whole. The initiatives on racial voting rights equality, because they were half-measures and never fully followed up on or driven to completion, tore the Democratic Party asunder and handed hegemony to the Republicans in a pattern of dominance that has lasted nearly unbroken now for 40 years. Is that style of self-destructiveness the Democratic Party we should now admire and imitate?

That same sense of unworthiness, that failure to take full responsibility for his actions and failure to BE the President, led Johnson to escalate in Vietnam - as Kennedy surely also would have done. Is that blind, deliberate ideological orthodoxy the Democratic Party we all want to return to?

Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, not once but twice. Hiroshima, perhaps, could be justified but only barely; a demonstration could have been made without the massive loss of life and horrific genetic damage to survivors. For Nagasaki, there was no excuse whatsoever; it was a mass murder of civilians, pure and simple. Is that callous disregard for life and human suffering the Democratic Party we all want to embrace?

FDR rounded up and imprisoned 120,000 loyal American citizens because of their racial heritage. Knowing full well the brutality that would be visited on the conquered countries, FDR allowed the Russians to take East Germany and subjugate the rest of Eastern Europe to save the US some money and administrative hassle. Is that cold-hearted real-politick the Democratic Party we should aspire to reinstate?

Each of those Democratic Presidents, LBJ, Truman and FDR, were deeply flawed men who, by their own lights, tried to do what was best but in the process caused great suffering and committed major blunders. While it is tempting to look back with selective vision and choose to think that there was some glorious day when the Democratic Party stood for more than a vehicle to grasp and maintain political power, the reality is that it was never more than barely so. Today’s Democratic Party is no worse, on balance, than the Party as it has always existed; it is only that we experience the full mix of good and bad in an immediate and insistent way. One major difference is that this particular set of leaders seems focused on winning actual electoral victory rather than fighting and losing an ideological struggle; for some, that absence of purity is a stumbling block while for others it is a sign of maturity and a promise of success.

One substantial aspect of liberalism – classical liberalism – and progressive thinking that seems to be entirely overlooked in today’s Democratic Party is the impact of deciding to advance either a woman or an AfAm as the presidential nominee. That both are centrists, in my view somewhat right of center and nearly indistinguishable on policy one from the other, is one thing; that they will one of them crack the mold for who can attain the presidency is the main thing, the huge social change that will resonate for generations and far surpass any short-term political leanings. That to elect either a woman or an AfAm requires that they be centrists seems so obvious that it hardly bears mention, but the demand that they both break the White Man barrier and the Center-Right Barrier all at one time continues to be voiced. Were either Clinton or Obama to be a true, staunch progressive they would never be elected President – a sad fact, but a true one. The great leap forward opportunity for progressives in this presidential cycle is simply to break the White Male President barrier, and IMHO it scarcely matters which of them does it; it is the breaking of the barrier, the good hard shoving of that particular Overton Window far into progressive territory, that truly matters. Anything else will be gravy.

I didn’t want Obama as the nominee, nor did I want Clinton. IIRC, many here who now hold on to her like a life raft were also Hillary skeptics. If it were she who won the primaries in a squeaker, we would be seeing the same apparent shift to the center-right that Obama is making; that maneuver is in part calculated and in part a simple settling in to the place of true comfort, and there is little difference between the two on that. What we are seeing from Obama is a clear-eyed recognition of the current state of political leaning by the American electorate; that is, again IIRC, how democracy is supposed to work.

More to the topic, and especially in regard to incrementalism and the achievement of true universal health care, there are two additional things worth pointing out. One, if it truly is necessary to post and discuss here at Corrente on the concept that health insurance does not equate to health care, can it be denied that in the greater electorate there must still be enormous confusion? Further, if such a simple concept has not been clearly explained, does it not follow that in the short term any successful approach will by necessity be incremental, with only small advancements being possible? The progressive community, as a whole, has failed miserably on this issue – as it has with so many others – in large part by insisting on all-or-nothing tactics and also by condemning and alienating all those who do not pass some arbitrary litmus test of ideological purity and compliance. If we ever wish to get UHC, we need to do a better job of explaining why others should agree. Clearly, we have failed at that.

Last, I want to point out that Medicare could be seen as, indeed was characterized by both progressives and reactionaries as, an incrementalist first step down the path of [rational decent compassionate health care for all] or [socialized medicine and the ruination of democracy] take your pick. Would we be farther down the road to UHC if Medicare had never been implemented? I think not. Medicare, SCHIP, CHAMPAS, Medicaid, all of them are incremental steps towards UHC that, however flawed, will serve well as stepping stones and do not at all represent diversions or failures, defeatism or self-negotiation.

Step 1. Drive the Republicans from public office

Because if we don’t accomplish Step 1, there will never be a Step 2.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The public today has rejected the GOP in a big way and wants to see real leadership against the war, for healthcare, etc.

Obama is making the same mistakes that Gore and Kerry made, but in a much bigger way and at a more untimely time. The good news for him is that the antipathy toward Repubs is so great now, that his fuckups are still relatively unlikely to cost him the election.

Step 1: Obama should stop doing what Avedon so aptly described: "Obama created a situation where he can’t and won’t brag on what’s good about Democrats, and all that leaves is the stuff that does him (and Democrats) no good."

Submitted by lambert on

Should the Republicans to be driven from public office include Republicans who have joined the Democratic Party?

If there are Republicans who are to be driven from public life, do those Republicans include include Republicans like Bruce Fein?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Should the Republicans to be driven from public office include Republicans who have joined the Democratic Party?
All three of them you're worried about? Such a kind heart. Don't think I can be any clearer - drive the Republicans from office. Once that task is well begun, we can start on the intraparty purging.

If there are Republicans who are to be driven from public life, do those Republicans include include Republicans like Bruce Fein?
Did I say "public life"? Surely not. Somewhere there is a soup kitchen needing help, a homeless shelter needing support, a drug addict needle-exchange program needing someone to walk the streets all night spreading the word on safe injection practices. There are so many places Republicans can spend their time in public service, cleansing their souls and earning my forgiveness. I welcome Republicans into public life, especially as penitents; just not public office.

Bruce Fein is not an office holder. He is so far down my worry list he isn't actually on it, although if he keeps running around with Bob Barr and Richard Viguerie he may find a place. I don't trust that crowd, not one little bit.

Submitted by lambert on

and I don't think deference was high on her list of values. Prove me wrong!

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Je répète: http://www.correntewire.com/who_would_yo...

Instead, we just lost the 1st and 4th Amendments, or at least important parts thereof.

Other than throwing a bone to the Clintons at the convention (speeches, if not an honest roll call), I have yet to see any sign that Obama feels himself accountable to progressives.

He began his campaign by trashing the wall between church and state and by whitewashing the sins of the GOP with his untimely, unnecessary, and disempowering post-partisanship frame. His chickening is coming home to roost with his plan to expand the faith-based initiatives office (the constituents of which will "help set our national agenda"), and he just retroactively legalized warrantless wiretapping and buried the biggest smoking gun of BushCo sins.

Until and unless there is some evidence that progressives hold some sway with Obama, it's hard for me to see why hauling in with him now makes any sense. As it stands, we'll get whatever he deigns to give us and no more. (Seeing that he badmouthed "socialized medicine" in his book, that may not be very much).

Given the public's appetite for progressive change, this is a sorry state of affairs, and he needs to get wise about it. Crawling into bed with him until he does seems to me self-defeating, no matter how many times people want to conflate the need for leverage over this cipher of a candidate with Naderism, and other Judean People's Front / People's Front of Judea mistakes that may have been made in the past.

Submitted by hipparchia on

and believe me, as an independent-contractor-type, i understand about the hard-won insurance. but i can also tell ya a thing or two [or more] about the easy-go part.

... the HCAN option includes restrictions on all the ways that private insurers make their money.

all the ways? because i haven't seen that in any of the emails i get from them, or at any time i've visited their website, or watched their videos. you got a link[s]? because unlike a lot of folks, i'm perfectly happy to be told 'go read the website.'

speaking of links, that one to frontline's 'sick aroud the world' is an excellent resource. i've used it a lot. i really like the clean, uncluttered look of the corrente sidebar, but that might be one link worth adding to it.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

if we don't get people who have health insurance on our side this is lost.

we have to convince people that health insurance has a nasty habit of denying claims, in effect collecting money but not actually providing insurance. And we have to convince people that the costs will continue to spiral up unless we cut out the insurance companies.

And, as Atrios put it in a not entirely different context, insulting people is an awesome way to persaude them.

Having said all that, you cannot win Medicare for All unless you ask for Medicare for All. If you dismiss it out of hand you will never get anywhere.

Krugman, Yglesias, Klein, and Booman has all done good work, but when they say that single payer is impossible inspite of the very serious political muscle behind it, then they are doing harm. They are closing off dicussion before it begins and that is not helpful.

Submitted by lambert on

HCAN wants to leave the health care industry firmly in the market-place. From one of the emails they sent me:

Insurance companies can change the rules in the middle of the game to deny you health care and make more money. We know the insurance industry will do everything in its power to stop us from winning real solutions in Congress next year.

That is why we need your help. Starting next week, we will be asking every member of Congress to tell us which side he/she is on: With us for a guarantee of affordable, quality health care for all? Or, with the big insurers who want to leave us alone in bureaucratic, unregulated market?

We need your help! Please forward this video to a friend!

We just released this video last week in conjunction with our action in Columbus, Ohio against the new industry campaign to try and fool the American people about their motives in the health care debate. The reality is that we need to regulate the insurance companies to stop inhumane and unfair practices like denying legitimate claims, outrageous premium increases, and blocking access to people with so-called "pre-existing conditions." We also need to have a choice of a public plan that anyone can opt into if he/she chooses.

We need to make sure that each member of Congress hears from his/her voters. You can help by sending this video along and getting everyone you know to sign up. This is the last big push to get people involved--and then it is time to get Congress on board!

Come on. So far as I can tell, what HCAN wants to end up, instead of a "bureaucratic, unregulated market" is a "bureaucratic, somewhat regulated market." And that's a maximalist position. Wait, though. I know what the problem is. We weren't polite enough with them.

I don't care about the list of good guys on the About Page, or whatever. That's their policy. I'd say that policy MR SUBLIMINAL Be polite now! You might make a Villager feel bad! it exhibits a measurable degree of suction. Eh?

And why, oh why, are we giving up on getting something better before the battle is even joined?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Corner Stone's picture
Submitted by Corner Stone on

But isn't this a pretty simple point?

if we don’t get people who have health insurance on our side this is lost.

Maybe my math is wrong but if 47 million +/- are uninsured doesn't that mean that 250 million +/- have some kind of coverage?
Last time I checked 5 to 1 in anything was a pretty strong hand to play.
I've never understood why Democrats start their fight crawfishing into a position and Repubs stake their flag and declare you don't have the balls to come take it.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

party to which we should aspire to pin our national future, not merely the past -- and particularly not merely the mistakes of the past.

Bringiton aptly outlines those above, yet ... the information mine has not played out despite the detail and length of the discussion.

And while I for one have run into more barrow ditches than I care to enumerate trying to change the radio off "Paul Harvey" and his "And now you know ... the rest of the story" shtick, with its leanings away from all things progressive folksily camouflaged (like a crocheted grip for the knife being slipped between your ribs as you stand in line for jailhouse chili), I have to use that hackneyed phrase, because even though it's a cliche it also accurately sums up "the rest of the story."

Let's start with FDR, shall we? Yes, the interment exceeded what we think of commonly when we talk about it at the dinner table. But it didn't start with FDR. Fortunately, though, we haven't repeated it on the same scale since WWII.
And whatever else FDR did, execrable or not, that speech about having nothing to fear but fear itself still rings true in the heart of most Americans old enough to remember life before texting while you drive. (By the way: texting while you drive kills. Ask any highway patrol officer who's worked a crash involving high school or college students in the last two years.) Arguably, FDR even set up the circumstances that made the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor possible -- because without such a catalyst the US Congress, and more importantly the people of the United States, would not take the initiative to throw off the yoke of a pro-German, anti-Semite, isolationism before the strategic moment to strike back effectively at the Axis slipped irretrievably past.

Then let's have a look at Harry Truman. Yes, he dropped both atomic bombs. Yes, in retrospect, that decision was both terrible and questionable. But we have the benefit of hindsight, and at the time Truman had a war on his hands -- and if you'll recall, he also had a nation shocked by the death of FDR, as well as war-weary, to govern. He had to act as, to him, seemed best at the time; unlike the Bush of 2003, the Truman of 1945 was working, as far as reliable and real-time intelligence could influence his advisers and his actions, in the dark. Without a net. History has not been kind to him; his choices have haunted our nation's conscience, in its more tender moments, for generations now. But the man did the best he could, and who among us could gainsay that effort?

On to Jack Kennedy. Oh, the things that came out about Camelot -- after its demise! Yet had Kennedy not stood fast during the Cuban missile crisis, what might have happened? Had not JFK put that relentlessly upbeat face on events, how might the nation's public have been affected detrimentally? The one man who could tell us what Jack Kennedy was thinking -- the one man who could show us what Jack would do -- was taken from us in Dallas in November 1963.

That leaves two Democratic presidents whose service, in the past century, we haven't dissected here. I will quote but one.

We must also expect that nations will on occasion be in dispute with us. It may be because we are rich, or powerful; or because we have made some mistakes; or because they honestly fear our intentions. However, no nation need ever fear that we desire their land, or to impose our will, or to dictate their institutions.

But we will always oppose the effort of one nation to conquer another nation.

We will do this because our own security is at stake.

But there is more to it than that. For our generation has a dream. It is a very old dream. But we have the power and now we have the opportunity to make that dream come true.

For centuries nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.

For most of history men have hated and killed one another in battle. But we dream of an end to war. And we will try to make it so.

For all existence most men have lived in poverty, threatened by hunger. But we dream of a world where all are fed and charged with hope. And we will help to make it so.

Yes, those are LBJ's words, and I'll post a link to them.

I won't rope in Jimmy Carter; like LBJ, James Earl Carter came from a South that, at least in our national psyche, we no longer allow to exist -- a place where sweat and work and effort, all day long year upon year, did not lead to riches. For the fortunate, such effort inculcated habits that, combined with savings or scholarships (and a Naval Academy appointment is no small coup when you count up what it costs to send a boy to engineering school -- and nor was it when Jimmy Carter embarked on that education!) could lead them to professions and incomes commensurate with what our media now take for granted; but for others, not so much determined by merit as by circumstance, and this was the thing JFK set out to overturn, this was the root of the work LBJ tried to carry through on JFK's behalf -- being born in impoverished circumstances meant being born doomed to a life of poverty.
No, I won't push more on Carter, and nor will I rope in Bill Clinton; but I will stand up for the man who was President when I was a child, the man whose grief and deep feeling I remember so well, the man whose roots on a kerosene-lit Texas ranch led him to fight for electricity across the land.

Did every one of these Presidents make decisions we could now declaim mistaken? Absolutely.
Does that mean they did nothing, their party stood for nothing, worth remembering, respecting, renewing?
Not just no, but hell no.

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by lambert on

bore some resemblance to the party that did all the great things Sarah points to, that would be a great thing, I agree.

Basically, the Dems we elected in 2006 started by taking impeachment of the table, and finished by gutting the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law. Insulting though it may be to mention those simple facts.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

plenty of folks here willing to fill that role.

My point was that there are no noble political parties; they exist to gain and hold political power, nothing more. The current Republican Party is purely a crime syndicate, while the Democrats still have some members in office who are not completely corrupt. Needing to make a choice, I'm going to hang with the Dems. But I have no illusions; it will take a lot of work and careful planning to get enough out of them to make the inconvenience of their company worthwhile.

If progressives want to reach their goals, they will have to do the work themselves. They will have to convince the public that progressive goals are not just worthwhile but achievable. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will do it for us, and harking back to some mythological past of Democratic Progressive Perfection that never existed is not, IMNSHO, any sort of a basis for addressing the future.

If sufficient public pressure can be brought to bear, there is a chance that the Democratic Party will respond and a peaceful transformation can occur. With the Republicans, there is no such chance. That is the only reason I favor having Democrats in office; armed revolution is so very messy.

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