Friday, December 18, 2009

Liberals Battle White House Over Healthcare Reform

The New York Times has now covered an issue that many liberal bloggers have discussed for several days -- the White House's anger directed toward progressives who oppose the Senate healthcare bill. Several liberals have criticized the bill because it does not include a public plan option or a Medicare buy-in.

Many Democrats -- including President Obama -- previously argued that such measures, particularly the public plan, could provide competition for insurers and reduce the cost of insurance premiums. Indeed, one of the strongest arguments in support of a universal mandate -- which the bill contains -- is that the public plan would reduce costs and make insurance affordable for the uninsured.

Under orders from the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deleted the public plan and Medicare buy-in from the healthcare bill. This move has angered liberals, who rightfully point out that Obama is betraying promises from his own very recent presidential campaign. Howard Dean, a medical doctor and former head of the DNC, has advocated that Senators "kill" the bill and craft a new measure that offers "real reform." Furthermore, Senator Bernie Sanders, who actually prefers a single-payer system, announced yesterday that he was not committed to voting for the legislation in its present format.

As Dissenting Justice has already reported, White House officials have moved to attack and discredit liberals who oppose the Senate bill. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, for example, said that Dean was acting irrationally. Also, White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod said that liberal opponents of the Senate bill are "insane." The White House response has only enhanced anger among liberals.

Axelrod conducted a conference call with liberal bloggers on Wednesday, and he faced numerous questions regarding the White House response to progressive opponents of the Senate bill. One blogger asked Axelrod whether the White House would respond with similar anger to Ben Nelson, the moderate Democrat who also announced his opposition to the Senate bill because he wants tougher provisions related the delivery of abortion services. According to The Nation, during the conference call, Axelrod tried to back away from the harshness of his previous comments regarding liberals:
"I'm not professionally qualified to judge insanity and maybe I should have used a different word," Axelrod said, and he noted that "everybody's a little on edge at this point" in the long legislative battle. He also stressed his respect for allies in the "progressive community," but reiterated his view that it would be "wrongheaded" to squash all of health care reform at this point, which is "infinitely better" than the status quo.
My Take: I suspect that liberals will remain disappointed. The White House did not describe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu or Bill Nelson as "insane" or "irrational" when they threatened to vote against or filibuster the proposed legislation. Instead, the White House moved to appease them.

Liberal activists, many of whom worked to elect Obama, feel betrayed by the White House's angry response to their legitimate complaints. Furthermore, this is not the first time liberals have felt let down by the White House. On issues as diverse as gay rights and the Afghanistan War, liberals believe that President Obama has not taken their interests into account or that he has moved away from his campaign promises. These types of feelings do not vanish easily.

See also: Rahm Emanuel Tells Liberals To Kiss His Arse


Anonymous said...

Axelrod et al.'s comments condemning liberals for criticizing the Obama's switcharoo(s) are a disgrace. Who needs Rethugs with "progressive" friends like these?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: Agreed! Krugman wrote a very good article in the NY Times that encourages liberals to support the current bill. Whether we agree with him or not, he was very respectful to liberals.

Dan said...

Hi. Saw your comment on Salon. I'll paste it here for context:


...People without health insurance are a social liability just like people without auto insurance. Also there are different interests at stake. If you crash your own car into a tree and to not harm anyone else, society has decided to let you burden the replacement costs of the car alone. But if the same person in that car accident lacks health insurance, the hospitals must treat him or her. Society has decided not to turn anyone away from hospitals. Therefore, your point about auto insurance simply does not work in this context.

End Quote

I just wanted to point out something that Democrats don't quite get. You mentioned that if that same person that crashed their car had to be taken to the local hospital without health insurance, they are a drain on society. What's the difference between being officially covered under a government run healthcare option or the hospital not turning them away and being a drain on society? Both are a drain on society. As a tax payer, I'm paying for that person's healthcare either way? Why not allow the current private market forces continue to do what it does (and overhaul the current system of private insurance to remove the tie to employers and allow portability) and still cover those that don't have insurance because they can't afford it, via the tax payers? (And to dissuade people from purposely leaching off the government by not buying insurance, their assets should be depleted before welfare kicks in.)

What people don't understand is, health insurance is not to insure your health just as car insurance isn't to insure your car. ALL insurance policies are there to insure the loss of your FINANCES related to a certain risk category (health, car, life, house...etc.)

The government should NOT be in the insurance business. We should only, as a society, come together and take care of those that can't take care of themselves. Leave everyone else alone and allow the market to dictate the outcome.

Thanks for your time.


Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

The difference is being covered at all -- which is what the mandate does -- and not being covered. That was the original question to which I responded. And the answer is quite simple. Coverage allows for the pooling of risks and revenue. When people exist outside of the pool and get injured, treating them is much more expensive. Look at the cost of an ER visit (not to mention follow up care).

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

This is another victory for the plutocracy, the Republican party and Joe Liebermann. There will never be, in our lifetime, reasonable health care in this country. We had better face the nasty facts. Ours is not a government "of the people, by the people, for the people". We're just kidding ourselves.

Tom Degan

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