Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Traitor Joe again

I guess I've said it a lot, but it bears repeating: jettison Lieberman. He is unreasonable, sanctimonious and undependable, and should have been subject to party discipline more than a year ago when he became a McCain supporter. What set this off is Lieberman just announcing that he'll vote to scuttle healthcare reform if it includes the option of letting uninsured people age 55-65 buying in, at full cost, to Medicare. This is exactly an option that Lieberman unequivocally supported barely 3 months ago, as you can see from this video. What a scoundrel!

Of course, the Senate Democrats have all but abandoned the "reform" in healthcare reform -- what else could they do when they established their willingness, from the beginning, to cave in on anything that would discomfit the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. As I've said before, this bill is now all about not embarrassing Obama and making him a lame-duck president after just a year in office. (Lame duck because it will guarantee that the opposition will defeat him via the pseudo-fillibuster on anything that matters.) This would give the G.O.P. reactionaries a propaganda advantage in the minds of the forgetful public; the party of the rich and powerful has been exactly about one thing: destroying Obama at all and any cost.

In connection with this, one can not underestimate the importance of fighting the resurgence of the Big Lie: the current recession is the fault of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and environmentalism and income taxes and Medicare and other "liberal" policies. You can read it in the WSJ editorial page or the Hannity Forum on the Web etc. It's as if A.I.G. and unregulated derivatives and subprime loans had never existed. T.A.R.P., started under Bush, is now somehow, in this revisionist view, an Obama program. The war in Iraq is rarely mentioned, and Obama will be criticized for anything that happens there or in Afghanistan -- wars that were both started and bungled by the Bush administration.

Of course, the Democrats are only marginally better, as a party, than the other one. Clinton and many of his economic advisors (e.g. Rubin, Geitner and Summers) were big advocates of deregulation, as was Alan Greenspan, whom Clinton never disputed. Goldman-Sachs, then as now, has been a shadow Council of Economic Advisors. However, the missteps of Clinton and company were done over in spades during 8 years of Bush-Cheney. Unfortunately, the public seems to have a memory of only a few months, so it doesn't seem to matter who did what.

Unless and until the Democrats have some sort of party principles and some sort of party discipline, they will be ineffective, either as a majority or as an opposition. Which brings me back to Lieberman. Apparently at Obama's request, he was brought back into the Democratic caucus without losing his coveted chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. This move was unpopular among rank and file Democrats then, and is even more so now -- see a new poll reported by The Atlantic. If the healthcare bill fails, it is essential, essential, that he lose his chairmanship, be purged from the majority caucus, and be publicly condemned as the major culprit in the demise of universal healthcare. The people of Connecticut (one of the wealthiest states) should have to pay, by the loss of his power, for re-electing him after he lost the Democratic primary. In a democracy, actions at the ballot box must have collective consequences.

I still think the Dems will get a healthcare bill through, but even if it passes, it will be a mostly hollow bill, enriching the insurance industry, and largely because of Lieberman's obstructionism.

I'll have more to say about Ben Nelson and the anti-abortion crowd later.

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