When Compromise Means Undermining The Logical Solutions To Our Most Serious Problems
When Barack Obama told the New York Times he was “like a Rorschach test,” after having just defeated Hillary Clinton in the Primaries, you have to wonder if he wasn’t already laying down a narrative he could lean on in defense of all the promises he intended to break.
Make no mistake about it, Progressives were NOT blinded by their infatuation with him. They were NOT merely projecting their own ideas of ‘change’ onto him, as he, his advisers and some in the MSM would have you believe.
Obama was not a candidate who spieled off a list of vague promises, leaving himself a vacuous space he could eventually wiggle away from. On the contrary, Obama was very specific about his platform. He eloquently explained to his supporters in precise details WHY his specific solutions were the most sound and the most logical for remedying the problems this country faced.
Unlike most politicians, Obama is blessed with a professorial ability to identify the cause of a complex problem and to articulately guide his listeners towards the most logical solution.
As it happened, his supporters equated his uncanny ability to brilliantly describe and defend each of his policy choices as evidence of his deep and profound commitment to them.
This is why Obama’s long list of betrayals have stung so many and in a way that differs from the all-too-familiar betrayals of the typical ‘talking points’ brand of politician. Obama was different. He made the intellectual case for the solutions he proposed.
An obvious example would be Obama’s promise that a public option would remain a vital component to any health care reform bill that he would sign. He explained it was the only way of injecting competition into a corrupt industry where none existed; that it was necessary for keeping the ‘for profit’ insurance industry honest, and would serve as a last resort for those who became unemployed, or who couldn’t, for whatever reason, afford the ‘for profit’ industry rates.
He had also described why a health care mandate — something his opponent, Hillary Clinton, favored — was idiotic. He stated “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money.”
As President, he championed the mandate, promised away the crucial public option in secret meetings with the hospital industry, and flipped on a good many of his other significant health care reform promises. And now — shocking! — Democrats worry about the political blowback in 2014 by middle-class families who will discover not only that they don’t qualify for subsidies, but that they will face financial penalties for not purchasing coverage, even if there are no policies they can afford.
Candidate Obama owes his alter ego, President Obama, one gigantic “Told You So!“
For this reason, there is a keen sense amongst many on the Left that President Obama has cunningly betrayed not just mere promises, but the public interest itself. That he sinisterly chose to enrich those same corrupt industries he spoke of so often, and to the detriment of millions of Americans.
Obama shifted very abruptly, once elected, from his commitment to ‘Change’ — as he had defined it — to something entirely different: a commitment to ‘Bipartisanship’. But this necessity for pragmatic compromise has cynically evolved into his chief rationale for pursuing the very opposite policies of the ones he once deemed imperative to solving our nation’s most vexing problems.
Here’s an exercise in simple arithmetic to help highlight the fallacy in Obama’s style of governance:
If Candidate Obama believed 1 + 1 = 2, and now faces Republicans who contend 1 + 1 = 5, should a President who quickly capitulates and decrees 1 + 1 = 4 still be trusted to solve our country’s problems?
Should he be praised for committing himself to something we all know is NOT a solution to the problem: (1 + 1 = 4), merely for the sake of projecting a token display of bipartisanship?
Many progressives believe that Obama’s commitment to compromise is nothing more than a cover to selfishly advance his own political interests. Because, we know from his campaign speeches what he himself believes to be the logical solutions for tackling these gigantic problems. And they are not at all what he has been fighting for since he was elected.
Obama’s Biggest Broken Promise: The One On Special Interests
Barack Obama told the Washington Post that he never campaigned on the public option. I recently provided resounding proof — as aggregated by Think Progress — and also included a new scathing ad being run by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee SHOWING Obama telling his supporters that he would only sign a plan that contained a public option.
Obama had in fact made the public option a major part of his health care reform promise during his campaign. Anyone who supported him knows this, and so his lying about it is only going to polarize him even further from his base — or should I say, whatever remains of it.
Chris Matthews, last night, feebly attempted to spin Obama’s Washington Post lie, when dueling with Joan Walsh of Salon. Matthews tried to make a distinction between Obama’s having promised he would provide a public option, and his having ‘campaigned’ on a public option — which is what Obama was quoted as having told the Post:
All that inner-beltway selective-nuance crap feels a bit like ‘grabbing at straws’ to me. You can slice and dice it all you’d like Chris, but Obama ran on it. Again, check HERE for the proof (and keep in mind ALL this information was available online at least 10 hours before Hardball aired last night).
Leave it to Uber-Blogger, Digby, to masterfully capture the real essence of Obama-supporter angst:
There is a lot of back and forth about what Obama promised about a public option and what he didn’t. The PCCC is running ads today pointing out that just a few months ago he promised that he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t have one. Whether or not what he called a “public plan” during the presidential campaign is up for grabs.
But when I went back and looked at Obama’s speeches during the campaign to get an idea of how he talked about it and health care in general, I was struck by something else: how much his rhetoric revolved around changing the culture of special interest dominated Washington. In fact, virtually all of his domestic program was wrapped in that promise:
This election is about them. It’s about you. It’s about every one of the 47 million Americans in Virginia, in Tennessee and across this country, who are going without the health care they need and the millions more who are struggling to pay rising costs.
But let’s be honest – we’ve been talking about this for a long time. Year after year, election after election, candidates make promises about fixing health care and cutting costs. And then they go back to Washington, and nothing changes – because the big drug and insurance companies write another check or because lobbyists use their clout to block reform. And when the next election rolls around, even more Americans are uninsured, and even more families are struggling to pay their medical bills.
If Obama had come out of the gate last January, forcefully projecting his campaign imperatives upon both Democratically controlled houses — after all, we ushered him in with a clear, indisputable mandate — and he came back with this lousy, crappy health insurance giveaway, the Left would have been just as grief-stricken, but likely would have given the President the benefit of the doubt.
The thing is, anyone who watched knows with certainty, that with Obama’s popularity at the time, with control of both houses, with this being his single-biggest policy initiative, and with reconciliation at his disposal, he had everything he needed to run roughshod over the Republicans and Blue Dogs, and could have delivered nearly everything he promised us. We made the mistake of believing he was working for us — the people. That’s what this fury on the Left is all about.
Obama’s biggest campaign promise, as Digby reminded us all, was that he would not be beholden to special interest groups — the ones who always manage to thwart all efforts of meaningful reform (as Obama eloquently described above). And, yet, before the health care initiative was even launched, Obama essentially smothered ‘Change’ in its crib, by doing EXACTLY what he said he wouldn’t — he struck backdoor deals with the entrenched interest groups.
And the President now pretends that he fought hard — though we all saw he didn’t. In fact, not only was he MIA — refusing to outline any priorities for a health care reform bill — his own White House was undermining his campaign promises at every turn, insisting they weren’t essential for Obama’s signature. He now pretends the opposition was just too fierce, too dug in — though we’ve heard from the Senators themselves that he never once pressured anyone on the public option. And, of course, he clearly didn’t want Reid using reconciliation.
Obama wanted the bill he got — the one cooked up by the entrenched interests in his back door deal. By not using reconciliation, he believed the Blue Dogs would give him the cover he needed to emerge from this industry giveaway unscathed.
And now Obama appears frustrated; frustrated that the Left won’t give him HIS due victory, and applaud him for this bill — this trillion dollar wealth redistribution from the middle class to special interests. He clearly believed the Left would allow him to white-wash this bill as ‘meaningful reform,’ but no one is buying. Obama’s brand is now the embodiment of everything the public detests about Washington.
In the past — before the net roots — this kind of corporate capitulation routinely flied like a stealth aircraft over the electorate. Bill Clinton could have pulled it off in the 90s — in fact, he did.
WAKE UP! We’re not in the 90s anymore.
New Ad Shows President Obama’s Broken Health Care Promises, In His Own Words
The two most controversial aspects of the recently passed Senate health care bill include the absence of a public option, and a mandate whereby the public will be required with penalty — to be enforced by the IRS — to purchase health insurance policies from the private, for-profit, health insurance industry; policies which may very well provide inadequate coverage, and may include unaffordable deductibles, co-pays, or premiums (those with qualifying income can receive government subsidies towards private insurance policy premiums). The progressive community has largely blasted the bill as a giveaway to the health insurance industry off the backs of American citizens.
A new national poll, by Research 2000, revealed that only 33% of Americans favor such a mandate without a public option and a medicare buy-in, and 56% of Americans oppose such a bill.
Yesterday, President Obama defended the bill to the Washington Post by making the erroneous claim, “I didn’t campaign on the public option.” Liberal blog, Think Progress, responded by posting a series of instances where Obama had in fact promised his supporters the public option:
- In the 2008 Obama-Biden health care plan on the campaign’s website, candidate Obama promised that “any American will have the opportunity to enroll in [a] new public plan.” 
- During a speech at the American Medical Association, President Obama told thousands of doctors that one of the plans included in the new health insurance exchanges “needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market.” [6/15/09]
- While speaking to the nation during his weekly address, the President said that “any plan” he signs “must include…a public option.” [7/17/09]
- During a conference call with progressive bloggers, the President said he continues “to believe that a robust public option would be the best way to go.” [7/20/09]
- Obama told NBC’s David Gregory that a public option “should be a part of this [health care bill],” while rebuking claims that the plan was “dead.” [9/20/09]
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee upped the ante by unveiling a new ad showing President Barack Obama stating the following:
“Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest.”
“If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money.”
They plan on running the ad in Washington, DC and in Wisconsin — home of Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), whom they hope can still be persuaded to drop his support for any bill without a public option.
Here’s a clip on MSNBC’s ‘Countdown,’ hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell, showing Obama during the campaign telling groups who cared about the issue, like Health Care For America NOW!, that he supported a public health insurance plan.
It includes a clip of Obama campaigning to a Planned Parenthood event on July 17, 2007 where he outlines to the audience his health care reform proposal:
“We’re going to set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don’t have health insurance. It will be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services.”
It also includes another clip of Obama in the make or break state of Iowa speaking to the Editorial Board of the Des Moines Register, the Summer before the Caucuses:
We’re providing subsidies to people who can’t afford health insurance. They have the option of buying into the government plan, or they can go out on the private market, but we won’t give the subsidy to pay for a plan that does not abide by these basic criteria.
And another clip from the Heartland Presidential Forum on December 1, 2007 — just one month before the Iowa Caucuses — where Obama is shown telling the crowd the following:
If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably move more in the direction of a single payer plan, but what we have to do right now, because of people like Deirdre and her daughter, is I want to move to make sure that everybody’s got coverage as quickly as possible. And I believe that what that means is we expand SCHIP, it means that we extend eligibility for some of the government programs that we have, we set up a government program as I’ve described that everybody can buy into.
We will not completely eliminate the private market, because half of the people are still getting insurance from the private marketplace, but we will give them a choice so that if they feel as if they’re being price gauged they are gonna have a legitimate alternative that they can access.
It should be health insurance they can count on. And the notion that the private marketplace can take care of that is just not true.
I went digging around in my old Organizing For America / Barack Obama Campaign material, and here’s what I dug up: “President Obama’s Plan for Health Reform,” where it reads:
IF YOU DON’T HAVE INSURANCE
Quality, Affordable Choices for All Americans
- Creates a new insurance marketplace — the Exchange — that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.
- Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance.
- Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options for covering employees.
- Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice.
- Immediately offers new, low-cost coverage through a national “high risk” pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created.
Bill Moyers Journal: Why Robert Kuttner’s ‘Party Line’ Mindset Ensures The Status Quo
On Friday night Bill Moyers hosted a fascinating debate on the Senate’s health care bill between Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, and Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect. (The video can be viewed here: Bill Moyers Journal). Taibbi and Kuttner both describe the just-passed health care bill as disastrous. They outline how […]
New Poll: Majority of Americans Reject ‘Obama-Lieberman’ Health Care Bill
New results from a national poll, conducted by Research 2000 between December 16 and 17, reveal that a majority of American voters are now AGAINST each and every aspect of the Senate’s ‘Obama-Lieberman’ health care bill — which President Obama is now urging for a quick passage. The questions asked in the poll follow below: […]