Sunday 20 September 2009

Time for Obama to shoot down the lies and the bad plans

After seeing how powerful and dangerous the insurers are when aroused, I am warming up to the notion of crushing them all with single-payer; at the very least we need the public option. But Obama is still hedging his bets: after Obama’s speech on Capitol Hill, both the liberal Democrats and the Blue Dogs believed that Obama backed their stance on health care, presumably by design. So the door is still open to a modified Baucus plan or the public option, so Obama can say he passed something, no matter what.

So which will it be? The Finance committee will probably start arguing all the amendments Tuesday and they plan three days of debate, although with 500 amendments that’s optimistic. Note that rather than pre-coordinating in advance, some Democratic Senators proposed the liberal House public option plan while others proposed the more modest HELP public option plan, possibly so the Democrats could propose the HELP plan as the compromise between the House plan and the Baucus coops (perhaps that was what they pre-coordinated). Meanwhile Snowe is resurrecting her disastrous trigger plan, possibly hoping that THAT can be the compromise option. Keep in mind that the public option itself is actually a compromise which writes off the most cost-effective alternative, the single-payer plan, and that the other side, the Republicans, offered nothing at all in return for that compromise. The Democrats have been negotiating with…themselves.

So first, Obama and the Democrats need to man up, and shoot down the Snowe plan. It sucks. Fix its problems, or kill it. Obama is, in fact, pushing both Baucus and Snowe on one of their greatest vulnerabilities, cost. Baucus’ plan would demand that families pay $700-800 a month for lousy care, and the Snowe plan would set “affordable” coverage at $13,000 a year. If Obama can crush single-payer without even a debate, he can crush the Snowe monstrosity (and the Baucus plan if he’s smart).

Second: we may have a replacement for Kennedy next week, which means the next step is for Obama and Reid to man up and demand that any Democrat who wants to sit in the Democratic caucus (or chair a committee) had better vote for cloture, in case they don’t go the reconciliation option.

Next, Obama and Schumer need to run the HELP bill by two people: Frumin and Pelosi. Ask Frumin about motions to recommit too, in case we do need the reconciliation option.

Next, Obama and the Democrats need to actually do what they said, call out the wingnuts. There are signs of wobbliness in the wingnut crusade: Glenn Beck didn’t even bother to show up at his 912 rally, support for the GOP outside the South is still at a toxic 11 percent, and Reid’s threat to cancel the October recess would prevent a repeat of the lunacy of the August recess. But the insanity isn’t over. For the third time in a month, atmed wingnuts showed up at an Obama rally. Republican leaders, instead of providing actually leadership, are sucking up to the lunatic fringe: Pawlenty was screeching about death panels (which is stupid) and nullifying federal law at the state level (which is illegal), and Kay Bailey Hutchison was screeching about Obama’s czars, none of whom are actual czars (“czar” is an appellation given by the media, and the officials in question all have normal jobs and normal job titles, having gotten their jobs in a perfectly normal way). So it is time for Obama to stop pretending he’s above the fray and call these guys out. They are calling him a liar to his face, accusing him of trying to kill people, accusing him of being a Communist etc etc. If he can call Kanye West a jackass but can’t do the same for Wilson and Grassley, he’s going to get whupped over and over. “Turn the other cheek” doesn’t work with bullies: going upside their head does work.

Next, Obama also needs to call out the media, for failing to shoot down the GOP lies, and for their chickenshit attacks against Obama. Just this weekend, MSNBC of all people is claiming that if the Baucus package were to be defeated in committee, it would be a stunning blow for Obama (actually it would be a major victory). And Bob Schieffer and George Stephanopoulos were both screeching at Obama that he’s going to raise taxes, which he isn’t. So much for the so-called liberal media. If Obama can call out dishonest politicians, he can call out dishonest reporters too.

So that’s what Obama needs to do: shoot down the less attractive alternatives to the plan he really wants, and be more aggressive in attacking dishonesty.

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