What was the point of trying to placate Republicans again?

Everything about the healthcare “debate” in the US is ridiculous. Despite having won a massive majority in 2008 and a very clear mandate to introduce universal healthcare – with, at the very least, a comprehensive public option – the Democrats have allowed themselves to be shouted down to the weak, only slight improvement to the status quo Bill that passed Congress yesterday. And for what? They didn’t get a single Republican vote, and 34 cowardly Democrats voted against it anyway. It only sneaked through with some last minute placating of the anti-abortion lobby (that’s right, if you live in one of those Democrats’ states you get to vote for one of two anti-abortion fundamentalists – no democracy for you!) and a promise that poor women wouldn’t be able to get help for such a procedure.

The hysterical, Glenn Beck-believing, Fox News-watching “tea party” mob, convinced that a mild change in healthcare is “socialism” and will DESTROY THEIR FRAGILE SOCIETY, is screaming that “the people” have been ignored and that the Democrats WILL PAY in November. And they don’t mean for letting their own voters down by watering down the bill to placate people who were never going to vote for it anyway – they mean for doing ANYTHING that Democrat voters might have expected from their 2008 campaign. Those election results don’t count! Obama didn’t really win! We’re still the majority! They’re wetting themselves with fear that “democracy is dead”, and they don’t mean the 34 Democrats who voted against the Bill despite winning office by running on a ticket that promised universal healthcare.

The whole thing is a scathing indictment on the US political system. Voters have the choice between one party of big business, and a party of big business that feels kind of guilty about it just before elections. If you’re a progressive American who voted for public healthcare, and this is all that they could manage, with one of the biggest mandates in history, then I can understand you giving up on the entire system.

Which would be great news for the nutbags and cynical opportunists who’ve taken it over.

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53 responses to “What was the point of trying to placate Republicans again?

  1. Sleazy Pelosi and her cabal appear to have defied the will of the people. As you say, the progressive minority has had its way with the American people. Elections are in November, when the people get to express their feelings at the polls.

    Obama wisely decided to defer the commencement of the scheme until after his second term begins. On current numbers there will be no second term.

    Sadly the plan did nothing to free up the medical insurance industry, or to introduce tort reform, so it is hard to say the Dimocrats did much to placate the Republicans.

    The striking thing about this process is the sudden distaste the ‘progressives’ have developed for popular grass roots movements. And having rent the fabric of parliamentary procedure, they will no doubt squeal like stuck pigs when similar tactics are used to delay, diminish and further neuter this legislation or, heaven forbid apply the same tactics to equally substantive measures.

    “Progressives” will no doubt take heart from the fact that the MSM is still titillated by Obama, giving 60% positive coverage to him notwithstanding the massive unpopularity of him and his legislation.

    This is great theatre, if nothing else.

  2. Returned Man

    The teabaggers are NOT a grassroots movement.

  3. I think Obama should now forget bipartisanship. Clearly Republicans aren’t interested and just want to oppose for the sake of opposing. It was worth trying, but clearly the other side just want to play games. So fuck them.

    And now all Democrat voters need to get out there for the mid terms and vote for their Reps and Senators so Obama can continue to be supported implement the rest of his agenda. And bring on the Cap and Trade bills!!!

  4. The Jon Stewart savaging of Glenn Beck was just wonderful. So hilarious and yet so spot on. I really hope it goes viral.

  5. Crap and trade is what is happening now! The government blasts rancid feces out of its ulcerated arse and then sells it to the people.

  6. “Progressive minority” – um, did you not see the last US election results? Dodgy Fox News polling does not equal a democratic vote.

    As for “tort reform”, you get that means “no compensation if someone negligently injures you’, right?

  7. FFS Jeremy, even I supported Obama last time around. That doesn’t mean I’m progressive. Look Obama’s popularity right now, or the percentage of people who think congress is doing a good job.

    And by tort reform I meant stopping the 100 million dollar law suits that enable louche degenerates like John Edwards to earn $35m by rorting the system and ripping off victims into the bargain

  8. Rubbish, SB, it’s about saving insurance companies from having to pay out to people injured as a result of their clients’ negligence.

    As for your poll – they only count those with “strong” approval or disapproval. I don’t know how anyone could “strongly” approve of the democrats’ weakness, but the bill is still better than the status quo. And the “strongly disapprove”s are simply the ill-informed who’ve bought a relentless, shameless scare campaign by the corporate lobby.

  9. Gosh you’re an angry chap SB. Something good just happened. Don’t wallow in the slops with the mad cunts, rejoice with us sane people.

  10. “…even I supported Obama last time around”

    Even you SB? Even a high-powered intellectual like you? Even a rational, moderate, well-informed, widely-read, pragmatic Catholic convert like you? Somebody should tell Obama, he’d be chuffed as.

  11. Jeremy, tort reform is not about denying compensation. It is about denying obscenely large awards, a substantial part of which are shared with grasping lawyers. A well designed compensation system ensures that legal and administrative costs are minimised so that victims can be adequately compensated.

    BadBob, I think the Yanks could do with a decent healthcare system. My comments are about the insane process they have just been through to get something of questionable value.

    And I’m sure the narcissist president is chuffed enough just looking in the mirror.

  12. Colour me disbelieving, SB, because “tort reform” is pushed by insurance companies, and we had “tort reform” here and the upshot was leaving a whole lot of injured people unprotected.

    That’s a fact. There’s a threshold level of injury now, and it’s quite high – below that, you can claim NOTHING, no matter that someone has negligently injured you and you can prove it.

    And these “obscenely large awards” are largely urban legends. Just as the commercial media regularly exaggerate criminal sentencing downwards, the email forwards you get telling you about crazy court payouts are almost always misleading and exaggerated when you look into them properly. And, gee, I wonder why these dishonest but provocative stories are propagated so enthusiastically…

  13. Tort reform comes in many ways. Sensible measures include limiting punitive damages, and capping compensation for non-economic loss, like pain and suffering. Contingent fee arrangements need to be limited as well.

    I’m not advocating leaving people uncompensated, but rather leaving lawyers with fewer millions made from the suffering of others.

  14. That’s of course not what happens when corporate politicians implement “tort reform” at the behest of insurance companies, which is the only possibility in the US.

    And you can see the consequences here.

  15. There was someone interviewed on Lateline or Red Kerry last night who basically said the objection to Obama’s reforms is because the status quo makes squillions for the health insurance industry, hence they would naturally be opposed to any reforms that rein in their ability to screw their subscribers over.

    The reforms don’t go far enough, but it’s a start. Once people realise the sky hasn’t fallen in maybe some future president will have the balls to finish what Obama’s reforms have started.

  16. Wait, what? SB, are you seriously suggesting that polling should determine whether legislation passes? That once someone’s approval rating goes down they should stop passing reform?

    That the business of government should halt because of a newspoll?

    How completely and utterly unworkable.

  17. Yeah, of course Keri. That’s why Fox News polling is in the US Constitution. 1000 people polled with loaded questions on the end of the phone trumps Americans actually casting votes for healthcare.

    Honestly, some people don’t understand democracy.

  18. Not at all Keri. I’m still waiting for Jeremy’s argument to demonstrate that progressives aren’t a minority. The polls indicate that they are a minority right now. And not everyone who voted for Obama is a progressive. It is quite clear that this legislation is unpopular. Politicians need to do that sometimes. Time will tell whether the people grow to love it.

    And, on another point, the compromises in this legislation are not about concessions to Republicans. By the time this last version was drafted it was abundantly clear that Republicans weren’t going to support it. The compromises and outright bribes in the legislation were to entice wavering Democrats. This legislation is 100% what the Democrats wanted. It didn’t get the support of any Republicans.

  19. “I’m still waiting for Jeremy’s argument to demonstrate that progressives aren’t a minority.”

    They have a majority in both houses of congress and the President.

    “The polls indicate that they are a minority right now.”

    “Polls”! The last actual polls indicated the reverse.

    “And not everyone who voted for Obama is a progressive.”

    If they didn’t want universal healthcare, then they shouldn’t have voted for a party that promised it.

    “It is quite clear that this legislation is unpopular. “

    Hysterical Beck-watching Fox-believing folk appear to have bought some insane lies about it.

    Fortunately for the Democrats, it’ll become obvious that their change is far from radical.

    “And, on another point, the compromises in this legislation are not about concessions to Republicans.”

    The latest ones might be about Democrats, but the original abandonment of things like the public option were to try to placate Republicans. The Democrats had this stupid idea about “bipartisanship” – they’d voted for Republican measures with minor compromise, and they thought the Republicans would do likewise. They were ridiculously naive on that point.

    They should’ve rammed through the FULL bill they original promised at the 2008 election. That would’ve been democracy in action – or as close to it as the two-party US system allows.

  20. Jeremy: They have a majority in both houses of congress and the President. You must be taking a very broad view of “progressive”.

    If they didn’t want universal healthcare, then they shouldn’t have voted for a party that promised it.

    A ridiculously simplistic statement, especially in the context of a two horse race where McCain is the other horse. I suppose you now say that everyone voted for Chnage, so they voted for every change that congress passes.

    The latest ones might be about Democrats, but the original abandonment of things like the public option were to try to placate Republicans. Bollocks. The changes were to get enough Democrats on board. Things the Republicans wanted, like the ability to buy insurance across state lines and tort reform were never on the table.

    Bipartisanship is bullshit at the best of times. It went out the door when Jefferson declined to part of John Adams cabinet. These days it is just a cheap perfume to cover the stench of hardball politics.

    The real issue is how much more ridiculous the American system will now become after the Dems have shown that raw power is where it is at. As for Obama’s proises of having open committee negotiations about the legislation, that was always a lie. His big medicine cronies don’t want the public to see them flex their muscles.

    This still has a way to go, and it may be that people do get used to the idea, and come to support it, viewing Obama as a man of principle pushing a righteous cause. That possibility shows why US politics is so interesting.

  21. Among the progressives I know in the US opinion is divided as to whether this was a sell out of a first step. There’s no public protection, unlike Australia, it seems as if insurance and pharma companies won some pretty big concessions – no cheap pharmaceuticals from Mexico or Canada. (Despite NAFTA … )

    Then again compared to the current situation at least millions more people will have access to good healthcare. Considering its sposed to be a “socialist” bill … its not much of one.

    BTW The Tea baggers are not a grass roots movement, as a quick check of their major sources of funding will show.

  22. The Democrats have a majority in both houses.

    They campaigned on the issue to have a public option. They had a mandate but were too scared to go through with it. It’s as simple as that.

  23. AU the people I talk to online in the states … some are really pissed off about the cave in on the public option.

    They tend to see Obama as a bit of a sell out.

    Personally I don’t know what they expected.

    All that feel good stuff about change and hope was fine, but everyone who bought into that … well they probably should have started their own tea party like movement to make sure he lived up to his promises.

    Most politicians are only as good as the pressure they get from the electorate. I guess thats why there aren’t that many good ones…

  24. “A ridiculously simplistic statement, especially in the context of a two horse race where McCain is the other horse. I suppose you now say that everyone voted for Chnage, so they voted for every change that congress passes.”

    No, but universal healthcare was the main big policy that Obama campaigned on. It’s also one of the things Republicans campaigned hard against.

    You’re saying it should have been abandoned because of polling after a year of shamelessly dishonest scaremongering – but that’s not how the people choose. They choose when they vote at elections. And the most recent election made it clear they supported universal healthcare.

    Sadly, that’s not what they’ve got, which is why the “strongly” support category in polls is so weak.

    In any case, I agree with you that the US two-party system is not properly democratic – a real democratic system would involve preferences, proportional representation and multi-member electorates.

    Fat chance of the two monopoly parties letting that go through, though.

  25. “This legislation is 100% what the Democrats wanted. It didn’t get the support of any Republicans.”

    70 percent of their proposed amendments got through. The Republican have form for voting against things they’ll later say they were in favour of, or voting against their OWN proposals.

    It’s called politics, SB.

  26. People voted for Obama because they were hypnotised by his ‘hope and change’ mantra. Americans often get seduced by sweet-talking hucksters.

    The inference you draw, that people really wanted this type of health care legislation is belied by recent polls which demonstrated that the opposite is view is held by a majority of people.

    There is of course a strong argument that preferential voting leads to arbitrary outcomes, depending on who is eliminated first – Steve Fielding anyone?

  27. “The inference you draw, that people really wanted this type of health care legislation is belied by recent polls which demonstrated that the opposite is view is held by a majority of people.”

    Polls? Yeah, 1000 people asked loaded questions is a much better indication of public attitude to legislation than, say, elections.

    Anyway, there’s so much misinformation about the bill in the US at the moment that the best outcome for the Democrats was to pass the bill and let the scaremongering be confronted by reality.

    “There is of course a strong argument that preferential voting leads to arbitrary outcomes, depending on who is eliminated first – Steve Fielding anyone?”

    That wasn’t the result of preferential voting, it was the result of ticket voting. Most ALP voters didn’t realise the ALP had put Fielding above the Greens.

  28. Keri, the fact is that the compromises were made to get Democrats over the line. That was difficult enough. The legislation was what you expect from a system which encourages horse-trading and bribery, negotiated behind closed doors.

    The sensible thing to do would have been to have an independent public enquiry charged with examining all options and advising on the best method for rationalising the whole system, and producing something fair for everybody. Apparently this sort of thing is beyond the Yanks.

    Usually if a country is dysfunctional, it goes down the sewer. This has not happened to the US, which I presume is the reason for them not having had another revolution or civil war.

  29. So, people believe Fox news and if you suggest they shouldn’t you’re arrogant, but people vote for Obama and they are “hypnotised”?

    As I said, SB, the Republicans have significant form for voting against their own proposals to look like they’re taking a stand. American democracy is broken.

    And Obamas Deem and Pass? The Republicans used it 35 times. So it’s fairly common to “shove bills down peoples throats”

  30. Jeremy: That wasn’t the result of preferential voting, it was the result of ticket voting.

    Ticket voting is a universal consequence of preferential voting. The fact is that very different outcomes occur depending on who is eliminated first.

  31. Keri: people believe Fox news and if you suggest they shouldn’t you’re arrogant Did I?

    ‘Hypnotised’ is an apt way of describing the adulation poured on Obama by the fawning MSM: “OMG, I feel a thrill up my leg”, “yes coudn’t you just eat him with spoon”, “he’s sooo cool slowly dragging on that cigarette”, “Yes, yes he’s looking at me”, “no he’s looking at me at me, quick, get me a drip tray”.

  32. “Ticket voting is a universal consequence of preferential voting.”

    No, it isn’t. Not the way we have it here, anyway. Voters here are given the miserable choices of numbering 70+ boxes or handing complete control to a party. There should be above-the-line preferencing, so you can choose between the parties yourself without having to number each individual candidate.

    The Greens have advocated this repeatedly, but of course the major parties want to keep the ability to abuse their voters’ preferences.

    This isn’t a “universal” or inevitable consequence of preference voting though.

  33. If you have a preferential system you inevitably will have tickets. Can you think of any examples where this is not the case?

  34. Not off the top of my head, no, but that’s because I’m not going to spend the time hunting through the world’s electoral systems for a bloody blog comment. In any case, there’s no reason it’s “inevitable”. There’s no reason you couldn’t have preferences above the line, as suggested above.

  35. Voting is an either/or process Jeremy.
    Either you vote for the party you like or you vote according to your own preferences.
    So there are 70+ choices?
    They are arranged (or to the best of my recollection were at the last election) in party groups now.
    The ticket you seem to be suggesting would not change that much would it?
    If you want to vote according to your own preference, and that “right” is important to you, then 1-70 is your lot.
    The fact that ALP voters were so ill-informed at the last election is their own fault.

  36. “Their own fault” does not justify tricking them. It is very unlikely a majority of ALP voters realised their votes were going to Fundies First ahead of the Greens.

    And there’s no good reason that voters shouldn’t be given the option to preference between parties, giving them control between parties without making the voting task unnecessarily laborious and complicated.

  37. “Did I?”

    Yes, yes you did.

    And the people who fawn over him. Were they the majority of people who voted for him? Anything to back that up?

  38. Given that Fox is more trusted than any of the other news channels, people who suggest that Fox shouldn’t be taken seriously are obviously biased. They may well be arrogant into the bargain, but I don’t recall saying that on this thread. You should only apply the consistency rule to comments made in the same thread.

    And the people who fawn over him. Were they the majority of people who voted for him?

    No, they were the de facto Ministry of Truth, bent on controlling the information flow, erasing all negative stories and burnishing the halo of their prophet.

  39. “Given that Fox is more trusted than any of the other news channels”

    You’ve made that ridiculous claim before. On what do you base it?

    “people who suggest that Fox shouldn’t be taken seriously are obviously biased. “

    Optimists, really.

    Fox needs to be taken seriously, because it’s the most shamelessly manipulative propaganda organisation so far this century.

  40. You seem to be forgetting our own ABC which is relentless in pursuing the agenda of the apparatchiks who have who have colonised this public asset.

    The media trust figures come from a PPP poll.

  41. Who are “public policy polling”?

    And the ABC is nowhere near as biased to the left as Fox is to the right.

  42. Wikipedia:

    Public Policy Polling (PPP) is an American, Democratic Party-affiliated polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. PPP was founded in 2001 by businessman and Democratic pollster Dean Debnam, the firm’s current president and chief executive officer.

  43. Returned Man

    “Fox needs to be taken seriously, because it’s the most shamelessly manipulative propaganda organisation so far this century.”

    **sharp intake of breath** …. oooh, that’s good!

    Copy and keep it somewhere safe because you’ll be using it again.

  44. “Fox needs to be taken seriously, because it’s the most shamelessly manipulative propaganda organisation so far this century.”

    Its a threat to all thats right and good in the world.

    😀

    (Its also probably not a laughing matter.)

  45. The fact that different points of view exist in the media is healthy. Fox is an exception to the great leftist hive mind. No wonder the partisans who devoted their lives to colonising the ABC, BBC and the rest of the MSM are suffering Fox Derangement Syndrome. Sometimes the truth hurts.

  46. Don’t forget that you actually have to pay for Fox out of your own pocket. If it survives and prospers then someone bloody well likes it! Unlike our no-option-but-to-pay-ABC. They’re just the facts.

    “Fox needs to be taken seriously, because it’s the most shamelessly manipulative propaganda organisation so far this century.”

    Yep, god bless free speech and the ability to turn it off if you don’t like it.

  47. “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And the balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.”

    David Frum via LGF.

    Cheers.

  48. Sorry!
    Here’s that link.

    Cheers

  49. The far-right freak show unleashed by minor changes to the US health system was a sight to behold.

    We should be alarmed, but it was all just too funny.

  50. Northern Exposure

    Don’t know if anyone else has linked to this but I’m not gonna read through all of the comments.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/23/obama-democrats-begin-rea_n_510563.html

    “According to a Gallup/USA Today poll conducted the day after health care legislation passed the House of Representatives, 49 percent of the respondents think the passage of reform is a “good thing,” compared to the 40 percent who think it is bad. “

  51. SB, let me say this again. 75% of REPUBLICAN amendments and proposals made it into the bill. Not Democrat proposals. REPUBLICAN. They weren’t added to get Dems to support it. They were an attempt at a bi-partisan solution.

    They’ve used Deem and Pass themselves 35 times. They have documented form for voting against their OWN reform if it’s supported by the opposition, to look like they’re taking a stand when what they’re ACTUALLY doing is obstructing the work of the government – sometimes their OWN government.

    There was a survey done recently, that presented two questions. One was simple: Do you support President Obamas health care reform bill? The majority did indeed say no. The same people were then asked if they supported a bill that EXACTLY described Obamas health care reform bill, but didn’t mention Obama. The overwhelming majority of respondents were in favour of it, and some even asked why that wasn’t the bill before congress.

    Fox’s owner and chief have both admitted that they actively campaign for the Republicans. They been caught NUMEROUS times doctoring footage, lying outright and a host of other disgusting tactics you couldn’t even call journalism. They admit THEMSELVES that they are biased. The fact that they’re seen as a trusted new source doesn’t MAKE them one. Perception is not reality. Particularly when you can’t even trust that the footage they’re showing you is real.

  52. Keri, a news channel like Fox is necessary if the communal conversation is to rise above “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B2” “Why yes B1, I think I’m thinking what you’re thinking”. There is more to a good discussion than a necklace of arseholes comparing their shit-splattered sphincters, each more putrid than the last.

    I like to hear a range of viewpoints. Fox provides an alternative to the anodyne droning of leftist journalists who have had their critical faculties neutered in journalism school. The informed viewer is well capable of differentiating between the news and opinion shows, and of spotting bias. The issue of bias is the same on all of the news networks. It arises as soon as someone expresses an opinion. The difference is that on the MSM the opinion stuff is relentlessly left wing. Fox has more balance. And unlike the ABC and BBC the public is not paying for their bias.

    I don’t for the life of me understand the significance of a quantitative analysis of the number of amendments adopted by the Dems. I do know that the Dems had complete control over the process, and in the end made a plethora of deals to get their own people across the line.

    The bill is entirely Democrat. If they chose to adopt Republican suggestions, that is their choice, and presumably they agreed with the amendments. The real problem they have had is getting their own people to toe the line. It is not the Republicans who are obstructing the business of government. They do not have the numbers to do that. There is no point blaming Republicans because they are numerically irrelevant to the process.

    I don’t think there is any evidence that Fox is worse than the other networks when it comes to distortion. Outfoxed was full of the same distortions and half-truths it was complaining about.

    If the ABC had its way nobody would ever hear criticisms of climate change fanaticism. The ABC is both sickening in its leftist bias and corrupt in taking money from the people on the false pretext of providing unembellished news.

  53. “I don’t think there is any evidence that Fox is worse than the other networks when it comes to distortion. Outfoxed was full of the same distortions and half-truths it was complaining about.”

    Actually, there’s plenty. I’ve not seen any evidence at all that the other networks have deliberately doctored footage – including splicing footage of a different rally into tea-party rallies to inflate the crowd numbers – have you?

    There might be “left-wing bias” on other stations, as in reporting favourably for some, and not for others, but on Fox they take it to the next level – organising and promoting protests, FAKING footage and deliberately altering things.

    That’s flat-out deceptive, not just spin.

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