I’m glad I never got that Obama-Biden magnet

You see those round Obama-Biden magnets all over, especially in Durham. I donated some money after Joe Biden was picked as Obama’s running mate. The deal on the site I donated through was that I was supposed to get one of those magnets. It never came. Then again, the feeling that Obama can really turn this country around, not just economically, but philosophically, hasn’t really ever come either. You need patience if you’re going to be a fan of the President. You have to believe that he really knows what he’s doing. He sits out a national debate for months, let’s the right tear him and his party down, and then he makes a vigorous speech that seemingly reminds you that he is, possibly, fighting for the things you believe in, after all.

And then he says something like this, to an audience of supporters:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed – oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particular derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.

Really, Mr. President? His laugh and applause lines, for some time now, have been at the expense of his own party. Are there not people within his party who have legitimate reasons to be disappointed? Obama just want us to settle for not having a Republican administration? Things had gotten so bad in this country that we’re supposed to be content that a Democratic President with huge congressional majorities has passed legislation that has been, every time, watered down in order to appeal to the opposition party without actually garnering meaningful opposition votes? It’s not that he aspires to be more of a centrist leader; it’s that his arrogance seems to have made him tone-deaf to the reasons why Democrats supported him in the first place. Among those reasons was certainly not compromise followed by compromise and more compromise.

As the leader of the Democratic Party, he has challenged my longtime need to identify as a Democrat. I struggle to find Democrats in Washington who do represent the party I want to support. I really don’t think I’m that far to the left. But I’m disgusted by how dismissive Obama is of Democrats who are at where I’m at or a bit farther to the left. Dismissive and insulting.

I will be even more disgusted when Republicans control the House in four months. I’ll still come out to vote for Democrats in six weeks, but it will be obvious to me why many others will stay home. Pundits who have their heads up Obama’s ass will blame the energy of the Tea Party, the motivation of Republicans. However, there really aren’t enough Tea Partiers in the grand scheme of things to decide these elections without the apathy of Democrats.

The apathy of Democrats is ultimately President Obama’s responsibility. I’ve seen little evidence that he cares.

Disgruntled Democrat

I just dumped one of the left-wing blogs I’ve been reading for a long time. I’m fed up with progressives who blast other progressives for being fed up with Obama. During the eight years of Bush, it was such a relief to find any Republican dare to be critical of the administration. It was proof that sanity can exist at both ends of the political spectrum. Most Republicans hated to hear any criticism from their own ranks. Democrats were presumably more open-minded. It turns out they’re not. Any Democrat who doesn’t go out and only tout all of Obama’s historic accomplishments is a bad soldier. I’m really disappointed with this President for lots of reasons I don’t care to write ten pages about right now. I’m more disappointed with a political party that berates me for expressing disappointment with this President.

I’m seriously thinking of dumping the Democratic Party all together. It’s a label I don’t know that I want to embrace anymore. Conservatives probably rejoice when they hear such a proclamation. I’m certainly not embracing the other side. I don’t think my voting habits would change much. I’d probably even switch back to being a Democrat when primaries rolled around. But living with the label 24/7/365 adds stress. Or at least it does to me. I care a lot about politics, but, frankly, I really wish I didn’t. Perhaps looking at Democrats as a group that would woo me for my vote is more comforting that feeling that they expect my vote.

Oh, and at the local level, I’ve got no faith in the party, either. The Durham County Commissioners are all Democrats, and a majority of them are awful.

Tuesday night politics

After multiple Republicans filibusters, the Democrats finally passed an extension of unemployment benefits, even though it was supposed to be a “jobs bill” (see Ezra Klein) and had been heavily watered down just to get the 60 votes to break the filibuster. This fall, Republicans will ask, “Where are the jobs?” and all the Democrats can say is, “Well, it would be worse if we had done nothing, and we would’ve done more if you guys didn’t get in the way.”

So people are supposedly going to enthusiastically vote for Republicans in November, but on what premise? More tax cuts? Tax cuts were the legacy of George W. Bush. Shall we just try that again?

Tax Cuts vs. Stimulus
This is from conservative financial type folks:
(h/t Bob Cesca)

I’m really pissed that Democrats have caved time and time again over the last 18 months. The stimulus needed to be a lot bigger. They couldn’t sell it. Health care needed to be bolder. They couldn’t sell it. And basic measures to try to push the economy along are token measures.

But they’ve a least got the country pointed in the right direction, if not headed there. I don’t see how putting Republicans back in power can possibly help.

59-41 (cont’d)

I forgot. Before Al Franken was seated, which wasn’t until JULY, the Democrats only had 59 votes. Before Arlen Specter switched parties back in April, the Democrats only had 58 votes. Do you mean to tell me that they had no plan to pass meaningful health reform back when they ONLY had a 16-seat edge in the Senate?

What the hell?

And as for the liberal House members who now say they will refuse to rubber-stamp the Senate bill…good for them. Last night, I felt like the Dems ought to salvage something, like a healthcare reform bill. Right now, I feel like the progressives need to salvage their principles, and that means rejecting a bill that fattens the pockets of the insurance companies and does not bring down costs. Or just pass the friggin bill. I don’t friggin know…

Baucus Plan Crapitude, Take III

PREFACE I was going to write a well-thought-out, sourced piece about healthcare, but I’ve gotten lazy, so it’s just a bunch of related and unrelated points running together. Sometimes I will just keep such posts in eternal draft mode. But since I don’t generally have solid idea pieces on anything, there’s no reason I must start now. Besides, I really like using the Jim Backus image.

The Baucus-led, conservative-leaning Senate Finance Committee voted down two public option amendments today. I wish there would be more headlines about the other bills out of Congress that do have a public option. The great hope now would be that a strong public option winds up in whatever comes from the merger of the Finance bill and the HELP (Health Education Labor Pensions) bill or that it winds up in a ultimate reconciliation between a House bill and a Senate bill. But that so many Democratic senators are reluctant to embrace the public option is very disappointing. Two years ago, we’d always hear from Dem leaders, “But we don’t have 60 votes!” Now, they’ve got 60 votes in the Senate, and it feels as if it doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, I find Obama’s lack of forcefulness to be mystifying. He’ll tell an audience that he supports a strong public option, but where is the pressure on Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu? I feel like Mitch McConnell is right when he claims that Obama will sign anything that says “health care reform”. From everything I’ve read, co-ops, triggers, and even a weak public option plan, when it is not allowed reimbursement rates comparable to Medicare, are b.s. reform.

Meanwhile, where’s the outrage that a sitting member of the House of Representatives has called Obama “an enemy of all mankind?” Not only do the Democrats seem to put up with this type of behavior, but they (particularly the Senate Dems) seem to want to placate the GOP on health care reform, even where there are no votes to be had.

Obama has been in office for eight months now. I’m getting inpatient.

10 Reasons Why Baucus Plan Ought To Be DOA

1. He short-changed many Democratic Party ideas in order to craft a “bipartisan” bill that, so far, no Republican has said he or she would vote for.

2. There’s no public option, but Americans will be mandated to purchase insurance in what amounts to a boondoggle from Baucus to the insurance industry.

3. The House bill with a public option gets a similar debt-reduction score from the CBO, and it’s widely believed that a mandate will only work if there is a public option to bring costs in line.

4. Baucus’s bill has insurance cooperatives, of which the CBO says, compared to a government-run plan to provide competition to private insurers, would ‘seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country’.

5. The co-ops would lack the negotiating power of a federal government-run plan.

6. Large businesses couldn’t enroll in the co-ops, thus limiting the size of these state-by-state co-op pools, thus keeping prices up.

7. Subsidies to assist with mandated coverage are not large enough to help families avoid financial ruin in the face of medical crises. Again, in order to carve off billions from what would still be a deficit-neutral bill, one of the key goals of reform is short-changed.

8. The plan taxes businesses for each hiree who qualifies for subsidies. This incentivizes businesses to not hire the poor.

9. The plan will cost $880 billion over 10 years. The Health Committee’s plan under the late Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Harkin has a public option and comes in at just $611 billion. The public option makes reform cheaper!

10. And on a personal note… It does not include an extension of transplant drug coverage. So people will continue to stop taking their anti-rejections drugs and wind up back on dialysis, awaiting a new transplant. Extremely stupid, both fiscally and morally.

Yes, I’ve gleaned some of these ideas from my usual sources.

Overall, I’m annoyed that the media is reporting this Baucus Plan as if it is The Democrats’ Plan. No, it’s this insurance-industry-shill’s plan. A lot of Dems think it is crap.

And, yes, I know that’s a picture of Jim Backus and not Max Baucus. They don’t even have a common surname. But the plan seems to me like something Thurston Howell III would get behind, and I think of Max Baucus as somewhat of a sitcom character.

Ted Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy (1932 – 2009)
Boston panorama from John F. Kennedy Library
Boston, from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum (02-02-2008)

His family, they’ve given so much to this country. I love Ted Kennedy. I love Vicki Kennedy. And I love that whole family, and I just want everybody to know that they need to be revered. That’s a family that’s given a great deal to this country, and they deserve a lot of credit.
– Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

I have a good friend who had the privilege of working for Senator Kennedy some years ago, and so I know that people who got to know Ted Kennedy personally loved him a lot. Democrats have not yet had a truly great President in my lifetime. But we’ve had Ted Kennedy, and we and the nation, even those who bitterly denigrate the man, are better for it.

Of the 300 or so laws written by Kennedy that have been enacted, I have personally relied a good deal on the COBRA Act of 1985 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. I’m sure I could find plenty more if I looked a little deeper.

Thank you, Sir. Rest in peace.

Howard’s End

Obama - DeanI never fully got on the Obama train, as much as I believe he was still an infinitely better choice than McCain. It didn’t help that Obama/Biden never sent me one of those round magnets that I should’ve gotten following my post-Biden-pick donation.

I don’t think I’ll be writing much about politics anytime soon. But I just want to get this off my chest. I’m pretty disappointed by President-elect Obama right now. I am getting the feeling I will always be.

A few highlights:

1. Having Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration
2. Loading up his stimulus package with a bunch of tax cuts for people who don’t need them in, what I think is, a misguided attempt to win over Republicans that is more like giving the finger to the left-wing of the Democratic party.
3. Giving the finger to Howard Dean. Actually, it’s this last one that motivates me to post this. I don’t really know the back-story as to why the Obama camp hates Dean so much. Was he too deferential to Hillary during the campaign? I don’t know, but Obama is treating Dean like shit, and I can’t see see how Dean deserves anything but gratitude for steering the Democrats towards a 50-state campaign that allowed Obama to build a national movement.

Ousting Dole? Only one option, according to DSCC

Dear Senator Schumer:

As far as I can tell, there are two strong Democrats currently vying to take on Elizabeth Dole in NC. Since all your resources are going to Kay Hagan, though, you’re basically telling me and a few hundred thousand Jim Neal voters that our voices don’t matter to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Please don’t ever call me or send me a mailing to ask me to give a dime to the DSCC.

At least Hagan has finally agreed to debate Neal. Unfortunately, it will only be for an hour, and the candidates who really don’t stand a chance are being included, so Neal won’t have much of a chance to outshine Hagan.