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Posted by: Doug Henwood | September 2, 2009

Ciao, public option

So it’s looking like Obama’s not only dropping the public option, he may be using the rejection as a way of distancing himself from the “left.” As Politico reports:

On health care, Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.

It’s all about “choice and competition,” you see. Forget about the experience of all those funny foreign countries!

PS: When’s the last time a Republican “stare[d] down his own party to get things done”?

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Responses

  1. Just as I suspected…Barack Obama is Bill Clinton with a tan, and the DLC is about as dead as depleted uranium.

    Of course, he would see this as his opportunity to once again smack down “the Left”…because he feels that as long as they remain totally dependent on him and the Dems for their survival, and he can hold the threat of a Palin-Jeb Bush GOP presidency in 2012 over their heads, they will cave in as they always seem to do.

    It’s pretty obvious that the attempt to use the Dems as a vehicle to sell progressive change (even in its meek “public option” phase) has now been revealed as an utter failure, and that the Left will get absolutely NOTHING more out of an Obama Presidency than broken promises and a swift kick in the nether regions.

    Maybe now people will wake up and we may finally begin the task of building an independent Left movement against both the Dems and the GOP??

    Anthony

  2. The data at this time (2 September 2009) appear to confirm what I said earlier: US unemployment continues to rise, but more slowly. ADP Employer Services said today that it estimated US private employers cut a net 298,000 jobs in August, as against 360,000 in July. That is almost exactly one-third of the total of new net job losses that would raise official unemployment in the labour force to the 10% level. It seems likely that this result will have been reached by year-end. On a broad measure of joblessness that would effectively mean about one in five workers able to work would be jobless. That’s an enormous change, it’s devastating for the US working class. It means both downward pressure on real wages and ferocious competition for jobs and incomes.
    It also has a severe effect on health, since health problems increase, as unemployment and labor intensity increase. It’s not a small matter, e.g. in Europe about one in 13 workers suffers work-related illness each year now. It will take years to bring the official unemployment rate down again to 8% or 7%, but, basically, I think the US national average unemployment level will be, durably, about double of what it was at the start of this century, in 2000 (about 4%) and that, in the medium term, real annual US GDP growth will average about half of what it was before. It means that, durably, the prospect is circa one in six working age people being either jobless or unable to get a fulltime job. That will be the biggest “social problem” there is. For most of those that do have jobs, their pay is unlikely to rise and labour mobility will be more limited. This affects particularly the young workers, but also older lower-skilled workers. Hence it is likely you will get a growing “informal” sector (“grey circuit”) in the US economy. At first workers blame themselves, and trust in goodwill, but in the course of time they will become much more critical of their society. That creates plenty opportunity for a third political party, or several parties, to challenge the ruling parties.

  3. Maybe. The Politico article doesn’t name anyone in the Whitehouse who says the public option is off the table. We’ll see what Obama says to Congress.

  4. As in the 1990s, it has been about “managed competition” all along. The exchange was not there to serve the public option; the public option was there to serve the exchange. It all comes down to the exchange. Their solution to our health care problem is choice and competition, because every “honest” Democrat, according to Larry Summers, is a Friedmanite. Democrats still argue within not against market liberalism. Whatever else collapsed in the crisis, it wasn’t their ideology.

  5. The Democrats were obsessed with the every minute mistake in their failure to pass HillaryCare because they were largely pursuing the same ends. Jacob Hacker’s (long since diluted) proposal was the new carrot for the party faithful, who largely favor single-payer, and the line about American “culture” being against single-payer was the new stick.

    Most days, it seems Obama understands progressives better than progressives understand themselves.


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