Where’s the Obama-Line?


That Obama’s talk is disturbing is undeniable. He is insisting that SocSec has to be “reformed” because it’s the “fiscally responsible” course of action. The plan they’re keying on is all about cutting benefits. Of course.

Here is the language of the Diamond-Orszag plan:

Workers who are 55 or older will experience no change in their benefits from those scheduled under current law. For younger workers with average earnings, our proposal involves a gradual reduction in benefits from those scheduled under current law. For example, the reduction in benefits for a 45-year old average earner is less than 1 percent; for a 35-year-old, less than 5 percent; and for a 25-year-old, less than 9 percent. Reductions are smaller for lower earners, and larger for higher ones.

I interpret “a reduction in benefits” to mean a reduction in benefits. Conason titles his piece “Reform healthcare — and leave Social Security alone.” He says “President Obama must not cave in to the privatizers and slashers,” but apparently that still allows for the benefit reductions of the Diamond-Orszag plan, which are not deemed “significant.”

Then there’s that “taking single-payer off the table” gambit that Amy Goodman slammed in her column.

President Barack Obama promises health care reform, but he has taken single-payer health care off the table. Single-payer is the system that removes private insurance companies from the picture; the government pays all the bills, but health care delivery remains private. People still get their choice of what doctor to go to and what hospital to use. Single-payer reduces the administrative costs and removes the profit that insurance companies add to health care delivery. Single-payer solutions, however, get almost no space in the debate.

To prove it, she notes of his upcoming health-care summit:

Activist groups like Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org) expressed outrage that no other single-payer advocate was to be included among the 120 people at the summit. Finally, the White House relented and invited Dr. Oliver Fein, president of PNHP. Two people out of 120.

The reluctance is palpable and very familiar. Remember Dick Cheney’s foot-dragging reluctance to meet with representatives of the alternative energy industry?

And of course there’s Obama’s constant corporate butt-kissing. I’m sure we all remember the special visit he made with the Wall Street Willies before the election to assure them he wasn’t going to do anything they wouldn’t want done. Today he chose the Business Roundtable in NYC to showcase his “It’s not as bad as you think. Nothing to see here. Move along” speech.

Obama, speaking to top executives of the Business Roundtable, expressed an optimistic vision and called for patience.

Richard Parsons, chairman of beleaguered Citigroup Inc., asked if Obama could offer some help in a national battle “between confidence and fear.”

“A smidgen of good news and suddenly everything is doing great. A little bit of bad news and ooohh , we’re down on the dumps,” Obama said. “And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I am the object in chief of this varying assessment.”

“I don’t think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say,” Obama added. “Things two years ago were not as good as we thought because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy. They’re not as bad as we think they are now.”

“And my long-term projections are highly optimistic, if we take care of some of these long-term structural problems.”

In “Dump the Dems (10)” I criticized Obama’s avid defense of the unConstitutional Bush policy on state secrets. Mark Gisleson took me to task in a comment to that post.

Give the guy some time before you cut him up for stew meat. When FDR took over, did half his party have a record of rolling over for the Republicans?

Obama will take what is there and then some. How anyone on the outside can know what’s doable right now is simply unfathomable to me.

***

Governing is judged by what you accomplish. Give O 100 days, six months, one year — then tell us what you think.

My response was basically that the Constitution isn’t something you “wait” on but that however it hurt, in other areas you don’t jump all over him. Well, all three of those are examples of what I meant.

SocSec

As maddening as it is, there’s a legitimate case to be made for letting the President deal with this by staying open to alternative plans. That talk – which is all it is now – is going to go on for quite some time. We’ve been having this discussion since Reagan and Obama isn’t going to be the one to stop it no matter what he does. At the very least, even if he really means what he says (and there’s no proof of it yet) there will be plenty of time to scream when we’ve got a proposal on the table. IAC, it soothes the corporate players to hear it now and he needs their opposition lulled or even inactive in order to make the critical infrastructure changes they hate, and if thinking SocSec’s a bargaining chip will do that, let him make like Bush’s country cousin for a while. We can take it.

Single Payer National Health

Putting single-payer back on the table is our job. That doesn’t mean just pressuring the White House, it means pressuring the Congress, the press, and state and local govts to pressure the WH with us. If health care’s going to be on the table, we’re the ones who have to make sure the single-payer option has to be considered because we’re demanding it. Amy points out that the media simply ignore single-payer.

A study released by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a watchdog group, found that in the week before Obama’s health care summit, of the hundreds of stories that appeared in newspapers and on the networks, “only five included the views of advocates of single-payer — none of which appeared on television.” Most columns that mentioned single-payer were written by opponents.

That has to change and we have to make it change. Write letters to the editor of the local paper and your state and national reps. Even if Obama wants to do it, he’s surrounded by people who don’t. Give him some ammunition.

Corporate Kow-Towing

It’s getting maybe to be time to start thinking about real campaign finance reform. CFR is critical for our future. Without it, the money will continue to rule the game and the rich will get what they want no matter what we say. Obama is obviously not alone in kissing corporate ass. The fact is that the way things work now no candidate or elected pol has any choice. Like Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, “Cause that’s where the money is.”

We may not know where do draw the line with Obama or where he draws the line but that’s not all that important yet because the corpo’s own the show and actors can always be replaced.

Conclusion

Two quick points:

1) We’ve been centered on Bush and the WH for so long that we don’t remember the president is just a guy with a job he can’t do alone. He doesn’t even have the powers of your average CEO and he’s working in a system that has been made seriously dysfunctional over the last 30 years, particularly the last 8. The mess is huge and it’s going to take all of us to fix it. We can’t pressure Obama, but we can pressure people who can pressure Obama. It’s time to do just that.

2) As Avedon said the other day, “I support the advancement of policies that will make the United States liveable for all of its inhabitants. I don’t actually care who does it…” Obama isn’t even the lynchpin for most of that. He’s just a conduit. As long as the money owns the process, it will own the candidates, and as long as it owns the candidates, it owns the govt. That’s not his fault, that’s not anybody’s fault but ours. Most of that corporate money goes for media buys because we’re so lazy we actually decide who we’re going to vote for by watching television.

That MUST stop or we will deserve the next reaming we get.

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2 responses to “Where’s the Obama-Line?

  1. I don’t think anyone deserves the government they’re getting, particularly when people are endlessly indoctrinated to accept the yoke their masters place on them.

  2. It’s a fine point but the fact is that this is a democracy, a democracy relies on citizen participation, and we haven’t been participating. We’ve allowed ourselves to sleep through what amounts to a fascist dictatorship in almost everything but name. It couldn’t have happened without us. The info was there even if we had to look for it a little but we couldn’t be bothered.

    Bush and the corpo’s got away with what they got away with because we bought comforting lies and pie-in-the-sky. We have to take responsibility for that and do better or we will, in fact as well as ethically, deserve what we get.

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