Tag Archives: Progressives

Flip Flopping on Obama: Democrats are Wimps

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dr. Jeff Schweitzer


We fully expect rats to abandon a sinking ship, but even those readily disloyal rodents wait for a leak to spring before contemplating a swim. In contrast, Democrats scramble frantically to jump overboard at the first whiff of a moist towel.

Nowhere was this unpleasant characteristic more glaringly evident than during the health care debate. Because Obama did not deliver the perfect bill instantly, the punditry immediately labeled the president “ineffective” and “passive” and “drifting” and “lost” and horror-of-horrors, “another Jimmy Carter.” Obama was criticized repeatedly because he “leads more from the head than the heart” and “relies more on listening than preaching,” as if those qualities were actually somehow negative. And those were the liberal talking heads. Obama was written off as a loser by his own team simply because he could not change 50 years of social inertia in his first year in office.

George Packer of The New Yorker loudly proclaimed “Obama’s Lost Year.” Robert Parry of The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel lamented “How Obama Lost His Way.” Piling on were House Democrats who snidely disparaged the health care bill in February, but who now bask in the glory of its passage. These House members quickly toweled off after a premature dunk then tried to pretend they never panicked.

To place this cowardly behavior in context, remember that Republicans stuck stubbornly and loyally to George Bush for eight years in the face of illegal wire taps, disastrous wars, huge deficits, torture, economic collapse, environmental calamity and a terrible butchering of the English language. Democrats did not last eight months before whipping out the chains of self-flagellation because the president did not perform miracles or give us the public option (yet). That easy disloyalty is even more discouraging given that Democrats held the largest majority that either party has held in the Senate since Watergate and a 40-seat majority in the House.

Tackling legislation that has eluded every president for the last five decades is a delicate, tricky, complicated dance of nuance, strategy and hard-ball politics. The best analogy for what Obama has done, and how he achieved victory, is Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights battle. In fact the recently-passed health care reform bill will likely prove to be similar to early civil rights legislation in many ways — breaking old barriers, creating significant social change, remapping political alliances and creating a better world with legislation that was initially deeply flawed or ineffective. Old Ike fired the first shot of civil rights legislation across the bow of a nation largely hostile to the idea. He faced fierce, nasty and sometimes violent opposition from southern Senators who wielded power far greater than anything we see today.

Consequently the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1957 was weak, flawed and largely impotent but miraculous in its passage nevertheless. The bill became law only after enduring the longest single-senator filibuster in our history. That paragon of racial intolerance, Strom Thurmond, read non-stop for more than 24 hours in a final but ultimately futile attempt to thwart passage. Ironically he read from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, desecrating both in doing so. As with Obama and health care, what Ike did was important beyond the specific bill that passed; he breached a barrier that seemed impenetrable; he set the stage for progress.

He laid the foundation on which Lyndon Johnson built the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Eisenhower’s pioneering legislation, no matter how weak, Johnson would have never passed his landmark bill. Likewise, the public option, which is the end-game of true reform, will eventually become law because of the foundation created with this first attempt at health care reform.

In this light, and with this history, we should be embarrassed by our impatience with Obama as he marshaled health care legislation through a reluctant legislature and a populace confused by a vitriolic misinformation campaign. We lost temporal perspective, focusing on the moment to the exclusion of the future. Obama deserved our support and instead we bickered and told tales of woe because the bill was imperfect and not implemented quickly enough for our taste for the immediate. And the opposition nearly slaughtered us because we were unable to unite.

We argued passionately about the minutiae of specific language while the GOP was plotting a grand strategy of our destruction. Our impatience and immaturity aided and abetted that effort. Many Democrats I know and respect simply gave up on the president because he did not produce fast enough or give them everything they wanted. In the euphoria of electing one of our own, we forgot that ideological purity is not a recipe for pragmatic governance. We once again almost let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and were only saved from ourselves by strong leadership which ignored our plaintive and pathetic cries. Thankfully Obama was playing chess while we were trying to figuring out how to go from one to square to another in checkers.

Well, now that the first health care bill has passed we at least learned our lesson, right? One would think, but one would be wrong. The cycle begins anew with Obama’s announcement that he will allow off-shore oil drilling. Oh the humanity!

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.” And we’re off and running, so predictably. Here is a typical response to Obama’s announcement, this from Frank Tursi from the North Carolina Coastal Federation: “To garner support for a bill that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the administration is willing to expand the very substance that causes those emissions in the first place. Pandering for votes that rely on a polluting fuel of the past is not the kind of change many of us expected.”

Sound eerily familiar to the dialogue on health care before the bill passed? Once again we fail to see the big picture and instead focus narrowly on our immediate interests and concerns. Passing meaningful climate change legislation will be every bit as difficult as health care reform, and will require the same type of unpleasant and disconcerting compromise. We must again choose between the easy comfort of ideological purity and the pragmatic necessity of governing if we actually want to do something about global warming. Saving the planet is probably the better option, even if less satisfying emotionally.

Obama did not choose drilling in a vacuum; the decision is part of his broader energy strategy. Yes, we must emphasize conservation and efficiency, and we must do everything possible to promote renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions. But as we transition to a green economy, we have to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. That is the reality. The energy must come from somewhere, and even as we promote renewables many conservation groups are opposing wind energy, one of the most viable alternatives. Wind turbines disrupt migratory patterns, kill birds and bats and threaten certain species like the sage grouse. So should we support or oppose wind energy?

Something has to give, some compromise must be reached; we live in an imperfect world. Demanding perfection leads to paralysis — and victory for the opposition. Withdrawing support from Obama because he proposes a solution that does not meet our every wish makes little sense, particularly in light of what the other Party has to offer.

By no means do I propose that we blindly accept Obama’s proposed solutions or draft legislation. Debate, modify, argue, disagree: all of that is healthy. But do so knowing that ugly compromise is necessary, and that in a messy democracy no result will be perfectly satisfactory. Democrats need to learn from their Republican colleagues, who seem to know when to argue among themselves and when to coalesce into a unified bloc.

Whenever you feel disappointed or angry at Obama, just close your eyes and think of George W. Bush. Then, rally around, because no matter how imperfect Obama is, he’s better than the alternative.

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Schweitzer was responsible for providing scientific and technological policy advice and analysis for Al Gore, President Clinton and President Clinton’s Science Advisor, and to coordinate the U.S. government’s international science and technology cooperation. He worked with the president’s cabinet and 22 U.S. Government technical agencies, and with countries throughout the world, in a broad range of fields including biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, agriculture, oceanography and marine sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the permanent Global Forum on Science and Technology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote greater international scientific collaboration.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Democrats, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Sciences, Uncategorized

Progressive Groups Mock Glenn Beck For Mocking Progressives (VIDEO)

Posted by: Audiegrl

HP~A trio of progressive groups is releasing an interactive video that mocks Glenn Beck for, well, mocking progressives.

MoveOn.org, in conjunction with SEIU and Brave New Films has put out a fake newscast (on the fake network CNNBC) in which the Fox News host goes through his usual moments of pique and emotional duress. Only this time, the subject of his conspiracy theories is the person signed in to watch the made-up video

An official with MoveOn says there is no fundraising pitch behind the effort. Generally, the groups are fed up with him demonizing progressives and want to start organizing a bit of pushback.

To customize the Beck outrage for you or a friend click here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

3 Comments

Filed under Glenn Beck, Humor, Stephen Colbert, Uncategorized, Video/YouTube

President Clueless? Not so fast…

Posted by: Betsm

Reports claim Obama kisses up to the bankers in an interview. Critics on the left erupt! Here’s why they shouldn’t

President Barack ObamaPretty clever, those Bloomberg folks! First they buy BusinessWeek. Then BusinessWeek gets an interview with President Obama. Then, one day before the interview is to run, Bloomberg scoops its sister publication by excerpting a couple of choice nuggets suggesting Obama is cuddling up to the banks.

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay…

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

Unsurprisingly, two of Obama’s harshest critics on banking policy — from the left — immediately went ballistic. Simon Johnson called it “a major public relations disaster” and Paul Krugman, in a post titled “Clueless,” said “you would think that Obama would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what’s happening” and declared that “we are doomed.”

Hmm. Maybe we should read the entire interview before rending our hair and screaming doom and disaster? If there’s one thing we know about the president, it’s that he is pretty good with nuance and capable of making complex, multifaceted arguments. His performance during his meeting with the House GOP two weeks ago should provide all the evidence we need for that.

blank

Read the entire article by Andrew Leonard @ Salon

12 Comments

Filed under Bad Journalism, Banking, Barack Obama, Blogging, Capitalism, Democrats, Economy, Free Market, Media and Entertainment, Money, News, Opinions, Partisan Politics, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Republicans, Uncategorized

Why Do People Often Vote Against Their Own Interests?

Posted by: Buellboy

Americans voicing their anger at the healthcare proposals at a town hall meeting


The Republicans’ shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.

Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

Last year, in a series of “town-hall meetings” across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms.

What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence.

Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go too far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough.

But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

More…

1 Comment

Filed under 2010 Elections, 2012 Elections, 2016 Elections, Barack Obama, Birthers, Congress, Conservative, Creepy right-wing antics, Deathers, Democrats, DNC, Economy, Elections, Government, Governors, Health, Health Care Reform, Independents, Mayors, Media and Entertainment, Neo-Progressives, News, Obama Administration, Partisan Politics, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Public Option, Republicans, RNC, Senate, Tea Party Protestors, Tenthers, United States

Why Progressives Are Batsh*t Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill

Op-ed by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com

blank
Pick your sub-headline:

a) It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real.
b) Here’s hoping a picture is worth 1,000 words.



Any questions?

OK, I imagine that there will be a few. Here’s how I came up with these numbers.

Senate Bill. These estimates are straightforward — they’re taken directly from the CBO’s report on premiums for people at different income levels. A family of four earning an income of $54,000 would pay $4,000 in premiums, and could expect to incur another $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The $4,000 premium represents a substantial discount, because the government is covering 72 percent of the premium — meaning that the gross cost of the premium is $14,286, some $10,286 of which the government pays.

One caution: this reflects the situation before the public option was removed from the bill. But, provided that the subsidy schedule isn’t changed as well, that shouldn’t change these numbers much.

Status Quo. In 2009, the average premium for a family in the individual market was $6,328, according to the insurance lobbying group AHIP. However, this figure paints an optimistic picture for two reasons. Firstly, the average family size in the AHIP dataset is 3.03 people; for a family of four, that number would scale upward to $7,925, by my calculations. Secondly, the CBO’s estimates are based on 2016 figures, not 2009, so to make an apples-to-apples comparison, we have to account for inflation. According to Kaiser, the average cost of health coverage has increased by about 8.7 percent annually over the past decade, and by 8.8 percent for family coverage. Let’s scale that down slightly, assuming 7.5 annual inflation in premiums from 2009 through 2016 inclusive. That would bring the cost of the family’s premium up by a nominal 66 percent, to $13,149. And remember: these are based on estimates of premiums provided by the insurance lobby. I have no particular reason to think that they’re biased, but if they are, it’s probably on the low side.

Not only, however, would this family paying a lot more under the status quo, but they’d be doing so for inferior insurance. According to the CBO, the amount of coverage in the individual market would improve by between 27 and 30 percent under the Senate’s bill. Taking the midpoint of those numbers (28.5 percent), we can infer that there would be about $1,427 in additional cost sharing to this family in the status quo as compared with the Senate bill; this would bring their cost sharing to $6,427 total.

Add the $6,247 to the $13,149 and you get an annual cost of $19,576 — for a family earning $54,000! Obviously, very few such families are going to be able to afford that unless they have a lot of money in the bank. So, some of these families will go without insurance, or they’ll by really crappy insurance, or they’ll pay the premiums but skimp on out-of-pocket costs, which will negatively impact their fiscal and physical health. But if this family were to want to obtain equivalent coverage to that which would be available to them for $9,000 in the Senate bill, it would cost them between $19,000 and $20,000, according to my estimates.

Status Quo with SCHIP. Fortunately, some families in this predicament do receive some relief via the SCHIP program. SCHIP eligibility varies from state to state; a family earning income at 225 percent of the poverty line, as this family does, is eligible for SCHIP in about half of the country.

Premiums are fairly cheap under SCHIP — for a family at 225 percent of poverty, generally on the order of about $60 per month to cover two children. We’ll assume that this will inflate slightly to $75 per month, or $900 per year, by 2016.

The two adults in the household will still have to buy insurance in the individual market, which will cost $7,684 by 2016. That makes the family’s total premium $8,584.

For the adults, we assume that the cost sharing component runs proportional to premiums, and totals $3,756. For the children, this calculation is a little bit more ambiguous. Out-of-pocket costs under SCHIP are capped at 5 percent of family income, which would be $2,700 for this family. But that’s a cap and not an average — we’ll assume that the average is half of the cap, or $1,350. Total cost-sharing, therefore, is $5,106 between the adults and the children.

This means that premiums plus out of pocket costs will equal $13,690 for this family. I estimate the subsidy by subtracting this figure from the cost of unsubsidized insurance in the individual market; the difference is $5,885.

Caveat/Disclaimer. There are, obviously, some simplifying assumptions here, especially with regard to SCHIP. The only thing I can promise you is that I’m “showing my work“. I would actively encourage people to pick apart these numbers and come up with their own, more robust estimates. One thing that should probably be accounted for is that the families in both the status quo and the status quo + SCHIP cases will frequently be able to deduct their health care expenses from their taxable income, especially if they’ve incurred substantial out-of-pocket costs. That means that the difference in net costs is slightly exaggerated by my figures.

blank
Read the rest @

blank
The closing…

Nate SilverI understand that most of the liberal skepticism over the Senate bill is well intentioned. But it has become way, way off the mark. Where do you think the $800 billion goes? It goes to low-income families just like these. Where do you think it comes from? We won’t know for sure until the Senate and House produce their conference bill, but it comes substantially from corporations and high-income earners, plus some efficiency gains.

Because this is primarily a political analysis blog, I think people tend to assume that I’m lost in the political forest and not seeing the policy trees. In fact, the opposite is true. For any “progressive” who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement. The more compelling critique, rather, is that the bill would fail to significantly “bend the cost curve“. I don’t dismiss that criticism at all, and certainly the insertion of a public option would have helped at the margins. But fundamentally, that is a critique that would traditionally be associated with the conservative side of the debate, as it ultimately goes to mounting deficits in the wake of expanded government entitlements.

And please do pick apart my numbers: I’m sure that you will find some questionable assumptions and possibly some outright errors. But if you found a persuasive, progressive policy rationale against the bill, I’d be stunned.~~Nate Silver

4 Comments

Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, Government, Health, Health Care Reform, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Nate Silver, Obama Administration, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Public Option, Senate, Uncategorized, United States

The Outrage Pandemic by Jeffrey Feldman

Op-ed by Jeffrey Feldman

Author Jeffrey Feldman

Author Jeffrey Feldman

HP/Jeffrey Feldman—Forget the Swine Flu. America is suffering from an outrage pandemic.

Like everybody else in America, I was surprised when the Nobel committee awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to Barack Obama. I was pleased, but surprised. Apparently, just about the only living creature not surprised was Bo the First Dog. But the outrage that flowed from every corner of the political conversation was far more depressing than learning about the award was surprising.

When did American optimism succumb to this constant outrage?

Less than a year ago, tens of millions of Americans descended on Washington, DC, just so they could say, “I was there,” on the day Barack Obama became President. Nine months later, a majority of Americans seem convinced that this same man–who once inspired them so deeply–has personally slighted them.

The right-wing is certainly responsible in part for the spread of the outrage pandemic.

The right has reached a level of outrage at Barack Obama that already exceeds what the left mustered after eight years of George W. Bush. The result is that right-wing politics in America now follows one general argument: If Obama wants it, then it is so bad it must be stopped or it will destroy America.

The insanity in this approach became clear in the health care reform debate where we have heard Republicans on Medicare say crazy things like, “I’d rather die than see this country adopt government-run health insurance” (e.g., I would rather die than have the kind of government health insurance that I currently have, which keeps me from dying).

When people shake their fists in protest at the very things they say they will die to defend, the result is far worse than a nation divided along political lines. It is a form of national schizophrenia.

While the outrage pandemic may have reached critical levels on the right, the left has done its part in the past nine months, too.

Try talking to anyone in the left-wing, nowadays, and it seems everyone has a bone to pick with Barack Obama. Whatever Barack Obama does, more and more people on the left are outraged by him. First it was the bank bailout program, then the auto-industry rescue, then the health care bill. Then it was not moving fast enough on closing Gitmo, then the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then withdrawal from Iraq. Now the left is outraged at Obama’s Afghan policy and his view on cap and trade and home mortgage relief and marriage equality and the prosecution of past administration officials.

Is there anyone left on the left who is not outraged at Barack Obama for something? If they’re out there, I never come across them.

blank
More @ Huffington_Post_Logo

outrightbarbarouscover
Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy by Jeffrey Feldman

blank

blank

framingthedebatebookcover Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections)
by Jeffrey Feldman

2 Comments

Filed under Change, Democrats, Editorial, Opinions, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans