Triangulate Against Them
by Deacon Blues
After following Rahm Emanuel’s advice (based on all the wrong lessons from the Clinton experience), Obama has lost control of the health care debate. Because he is utterly convinced that any health care reform package must be bipartisan, which itself is based on a false premise about the GOP’s motives, the president allowed the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by the industry-bought Max Baucus to take the lead in crafting that bill.
The result is that the final bill will contain no public option, no employer mandate, yet will contain an individual mandate. This means that taxpayers will not have the choice between the insurance industry and a government plan, and will be forced to pay the industry for their health care. In other words, by allowing the industry-bought centrists in the Senate to assemble the bill, Barack Obama is about to preside over one of the biggest pieces of corporate welfare in our history.
It didn’t have to be this way, but ego, a gross naiveté about how Washington works, and tons of bad advice led to this debacle. Obama has no one but himself to blame, and he’ll be presented with the option soon of signing a bad bill that is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans who thought he was with Main Street and not Wall Street.
Obama has one other choice before him, but it would take guts that he doesn’t have. If he gets the bad bill, after sending limp signals about his displeasure over its final components, Obama can take a page from the Clinton administration: triangulate against Congress and veto the bill. Tell the American people that a bill that was bought with industry money is more of the same. Tell America that Congress needs to come back and try again next year, and remind voters that Congress is supposed to work for Main Street and not the industries who write the checks.
Baucus and the rest of the industry whores in the Senate are pushing around Obama because they’re convinced he’ll sign whatever they send him; Obama needs to change the dynamic and inject a little populism into this. Ask the voters why the Senate seems so intent on denying families a choice while forcing them to buy private insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess. And mentioning how much industry money has flowed to Congress over the last several weeks wouldn’t hurt either.
But Obama won’t do any of these things.