In his very valuable book, Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Professor Stephen Duncombe writes:
The problem, as I see it, comes down to reality. Progressives believe in it, Bush’s people believe in creating it
Today, House Republicans are voting for a 33rd time to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. As before, the vote will pass the House but will be shut down by the Senate. So why do it?
Republicans understand the value of political theatrics. Making Attorney General Eric Holder jump through hoop after hoop and then, even after he cooperates, voting to hold him in contempt. Holding our nation’s credit rating hostage to make a political point about recession-driven deficits. Shouting from the rooftops about gas prices and Solyndra and Obama’s alleged culpability, despite the fact that gas prices are driven by foreign policy and Solyndra’s loans were initiated by George W. Bush and sank by foreign markets. In the theater, reality doesn’t matter. What matters is how the audience reacts to the show.
Frankly, it’s easy to argue that Republicans look stupid for voting down Obamacare yet again and failing yet again. But the fact is, Democrats are the stupid ones for failing to equally grasp and use such theatrics.
Case in point: The Democratic fear of the filibuster. So the Republicans threaten to filibuster, well, every damn thing that is good for the middle class and our economy. So what? Let them! Democrats repeatedly putting popular bills up for a vote and Republicans repeatedly filibustering and stonewalling is precisely the kind of theatrics that don’t just tell the American public that Republicans are obstructionists but show it.
The Democrats did a version of this once. Democrats only had 59 votes to pass Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. So what did Democrats do? Call a vote anyway and hold a press conference afterwards, shaming those who voted against the law as standing with Wall Street against Main Street. And then they held the same vote the next day, followed by a press conference. And then the next day. And then a Republican defected and voted for the bill. How do you know this was a creative and effective tactic? Because Democrats haven’t employed it since.
Barack Obama and the current Democratic leadership repeatedly fail to grasp that Republicans right now are interested solely in theatrics and not legislation. And so the President and Democratic leadership keep proposing middle-of-the-road legislation under the sick illusion that compromise is possible. Meanwhile, the Republicans are merely looking for material for their next big show. This is how a proposal to cut taxes for 98% of American families gets labeled “class warfare” and the conservative-created individual mandate in health care reform becomes “socialism”. This isn’t about bringing guns and knives to a fight, but clowns and jesters. Maybe President Obama should do more than raise money from Hollywood but actually get their advice on scripting a better performance.
Fox News asked me to write the liberal response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. I wrote that, thanks to Justice Roberts’ refreshing objectivity, the health care reform law stands. But conservatives will not be sated:
Chief Justice Roberts’ vote is so striking precisely because it bucks the recent trend of conservatives contorting their own past beliefs and principles to attack President Obama in any way possible….
It’s one thing to not like a law. It’s another to suggest that the highest court in the land should overturn centuries of precedent, not to mention the clear tax and commerce power enshrined by our Founders in the Constitution, in order to serve a partisan political agenda.
You can read my entire response here. And please share it around!
For the latest Politico Arena, I wrote:
Republicans were for the individual mandate before they were against it. And they were against partisan judicial activism before they were for it.
The president is right in pointing out what polls say 75% of Americans already know – that the Supreme Court will decide the health care case based on politics, not the Constitution. And the president is right to challenge intransigent conservative gridlock in Washington – from Congress to the high court – which is plainly putting partisan politics ahead of progress and the needs of the American people.
My latest column for the Fox News opinion page has generated a lot of clicks — and hate mail! Here’s an excerpt:
Never mind the fact that the law already shows promising and valuable impact even before it’s fully in effect. Never mind the fact that cost estimates are dropping and, starting in 2014, the law will contain overall health care costs that are crippling our household budgets. Never mind the fact that the central component of the law was a Republican idea. Conservative ideologues are willing to sacrifice much-needed health care reform and the well-being of millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance or are being denied care because of pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps on spending or other injustices — all for the sick goal of undermining President Obama.
Read the whole thing here and enjoy a good dose of facts on this heavily politicized topic.
Apparently, under an old provision in the Buffalo school teachers’ union contract, elective plastic surgery benefits are included in their health care plan. Yes, that is absurd. But the real problem here is the district’s unwillingness to sit down with the union and negotiate a new contract.
On Fox News recently, I debated the right of women everywhere — including employees of public purpose, religiously-affiliated institutions — to have access to contraception.
“Conservatives are always interested in individual choice, until it comes to individual choices that they don’t seem to like. Look, 98 percent of American women in this country, including Catholic women of reproductive age, use contraception.”
Here’s the video clip:
After more than 17 years working for Coca Cola, three years ago Verone was laid off. He’s had some part-time work since then, but nothing steady. Yet his medical concerns — a growth in his chest and two ruptured disks — have been steadily growing. So Verone, who lives in Gaston, North Carolina, walked into an RBC bank branch and handed the teller a note, explaining that he was armed and demanding $1. That’s right, one dollar. Verone then sat down on a couch and waited for police to arrive and arrest him. He’s hoping for a three year sentence — just long enough so the 59-year-old will qualify for Social Security when he’s freed, and can get health care in prison in the meantime.
Republicans who want to cut spending on Medicare by making seniors pay more of the costs out of their own pockets should look at Mr. Verone and think twice. The GOP hurries to explain that current Medicare recipients won’t be affected by their slash and burn policies. But soon-to-be seniors like Verone? If Republicans privatize Medicare, when Verone turns 65 his out-of-pocket costs will more than double. Something tells me he’ll rob another bank.
McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers are arguing that rising health care costs will continue to rise because of health care reform. The truth is, health care costs are rising because insurance company profits are rising — all the while American health outcomes are plummeting. We’re literally paying more and more for worse and worse care. Yet the GOP seems to have perpetual faith that insurance companies will put your health care needs above their corporate interests. Similarly, the GOP seems to think that if it wishes hard enough, pigs will fly. But wishing something doesn’t make it true.
Meanwhile, Richard James Verone — who we can assume worked hard his entire life, was playing by the rules trying to get another job but just, simply, couldn’t make it — we shouldn’t give him the basic dignity of basic health insurance coverage paid for in part by tax dollars he helped pay for most of his life because…. because why, exactly?
When Social Security and Medicare were originally created, Republicans attacked both as socialism — apparently because, God forbid, America was putting the needs of all its citizens ahead of the needs of corporate CEOs. Well, then, God bless America. And God bless Richard James Verone for reminding us all that Republicans and McKinsey executives care more about the health of big business profits than the health of actual people.
NEW YORK TIMES PROFILE
JOIN SALLY’S EMAIL LIST
FOR A GOOD TIME, FOLLOW
RUMORS ABOUT MELoading Quotes...
TV DOESN’T PAY THE BILLSMake a tax-deductible contribution via our fiscal sponsor, the Grassroots Policy Project
POPULAR TAGS2012 Election 2012 Elections barack obama budget capitalism civility Congress corporations debt deficit democrats economy feminism financial reform Fox News gay rights Glenn Beck government greed ideology inequality jobs marriage equality Mitt Romney Obama occupy wall st occupy wall street Paul Ryan popular education populism president obama progressive protests race racism Republicans Right wing sexism social movements strategy taxes Tea Party unions values Wall Street