Friday, August 21, 2009

The Progressive Revolt

Krugman on the growing Progressive disappointment with Obama:’s possible to have universal coverage without a public option — several European nations do it — and some who want a public option might be willing to forgo it if they had confidence in the overall health care strategy. Unfortunately, the president’s behavior in office has undermined that confidence.

On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee.

Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy.

And then there’s the matter of the banks.

I'll see your "torture and indefinite detention" questions and raise a DADT and a DOMA, as the sources of my disappointment with Obama. But I gotta say, I don't know if I see the bank bailouts as either surprising or upsetting. After all, the bailouts seem to have worked, so for Krugman and other Progressives it must be issue of the fact that there were other plans that would have worked, but also had the side benefit of some bankers' heads on pikes. That sounds like fun and all, and I couldn't argue with a guy like Krugman that there were cheaper and more just ways to do it... but wasn't it an emergency? It just doesn't seem that it was the right time to make a stand for Progressive principles.

Secondly, the people who are "single payer or DEATH!" were always going to be disappointed by any Healthcare reform plan that could make it through Congress. Medicare-for-all just can't happen here and now, and the faction(s) that oppose it are not dumb enough to allow a "public option" strong enough to be a stalking horse for it. That's no reason not to push for it, since if it happens you can hopefully strengthen it and expand it over the years... but it is guaranteed to be a neutered disappointment out of the gate.

Finally, I wonder who people thought they were voting for other than a "pragmatic" centrist? He was never a Progressive Saviour, but a guy who was roughly a billion times better than the last 8 years and a million times better than his opponent... and I can't say that that has been shown false.

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