Chris Nelson: Daschle Had to Go

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The much respected and very tough to get Nelson Report thinks Daschle had to go. In contrast, I think Daschle’s departure signals the likely death of any near term comprehensive health care reform. Too many other dominoes will now crash down with Daschle’s withdrawal — and the Republicans will score this as a victory and want more. . .
But in the spirit of offering views that differ from my own from folks I respect, here is Chris Nelson’s take — and watch the video above and chuckle:
NELSON REPORT, 3 February 2009

DASCHLE…this may seem “inside baseball” to many, but increasingly one could sense the tide turning against former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and, we argue, it was for solid policy considerations, not just “saving face”.
If you had a “meter” to measure Obama’s willingness to take the damage required to force-through Daschle’s Cabinet confirmation…well, you could sense the needle dropping yesterday.
Mainly it was the matter of $100,000+ in back taxes and, god help us, failure to pay Medicaid contributions for a private driver he thought was a non-taxable “gift” from a business pal…coming after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s tax problems, and the advisor who quit this morning because of “nanny tax”…probably that was enough to doom Daschle.
Public and chattering class opinion increasingly was asking “how come these Obama people think they are so special they don’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us?”
A certain tone or atmosphere of privilege risked being “institutionalized” by Daschle, seeming to be part of a series, leading to “who’s next?” doubts about Obama’s ability to properly “vet” his senior associates, and even to questions about his basic values.
The failed Richardson candidacy for Secretary of Commerce, the Geithner and Daschle “tax cheat” problems, the “sin of lobbying” being “waived” to protect the choice for Deputy Secretary of Defense…all this risked looking like a pattern of not just neglect, but hypocrisy.
Obviously the decision was not easy…this morning’s Washington Post, for example, editorialized its way through a litany of criticisms of Daschle’s conduct and business activities, before concluding that basically he’s a great guy and should be confirmed.
The New York Times made the same analysis and nasty remarks, before concluding Daschle should step-down.
As indicated, we think there was also larger issue looming, and was the back breaker for this very able, still very popular, and, sadly, likely to have been very effective advocate and broker for rational solutions to the health care crisis.
He also inadvertently pulled down the curtain so the country and the world could see how “K Street” throws riches at the politically connected.
Daschle collected something like $5-million in salary, consulting and speaking fees since being defeated for re-election 5 years ago, and only by Wall Street’s appalling standards is this chump change.
If Obama had stayed with Daschle, he ran an increasing risk of the media and the public starting to say, hey, Daschle made all that money by being far more deeply involved in lobbying, and special interest activities, than the country was led to believe (by Candidate Obama) would ever be tolerated in his Administration.
Parenthetically, we always thought the “no lobbyists allowed” mantra was naive and stupid. Journalists are always shocked, shocked to discover that America is a capitalist democracy…and unfortunately, the “pay to play” scandals of Richardson, and in Illinois, shows that there ARE limits which need to be policed.
But you expect Obama above all to be supremely “rational”, as per his waiver demand for the DOD Deputy.
The Daschle mess meant “what gives, have you guys no shame?” would increasingly have been a cancerous risk for Obama’s moral mandate, undermining elite and popular belief that he and his Administration really DO represent a genuine break from the past, and “business as usual” in Washington.
One of Obama’s greatest appeals as a leader is that he makes us want to be better than we are…that’s an almost unique asset which you don’t carelessly spend at any time, and which may yet be the key to persuading Congress to quickly pass the Stimulus Package (not to mention national health care reform, at some point down the road).

— Steve Clemons

Comments

87 comments on “Chris Nelson: Daschle Had to Go

  1. Bridges To Recovery says:

    Ah yes.
    Jobs.
    May I suggest you google “E-VERIFY”, and ponder the reason that a number of our Congresspeople refuse to allow an “E-VERIFY” stipulation on companies that recieve federal moneys in this trillion dollar ass reaming we are about to get?
    Now why, pray tell, are they against these companies verifying the citizenship status of new hirees as a requirement of recieving federal money?? I thought these swindling pieces of shit were concerned about putting AMERICAN workers back to work.
    Now, be you right OR left, do you really want these federal monies being used to employ illegal immigrants???
    Bridges To Recovery

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    Leave the mourning until after the House/Senate Conference….
    Then work on convincing Republicans that the future is not to be found in tacking right to avoid primary challenges from the right. Convince the media that tax cuts don’t help, that high rates on high incomes help the country as a whole and cut back on speculative extra income. Convince lower income Repubs that they won’t get wealthy on Repub policies….
    The Republican party has to shift. Don’t bash Obama for this fact of the world.

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    Krugman’s verdict on the stimulus plan. This is really, really disappointing
    February 7, 2009, 5:36 pm
    What the centrists have wrought
    I’m still working on the numbers, but I’ve gotten a fair number of requests for comment on the Senate version of the stimulus.
    The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.
    According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, are even more pessimistic. So the original $800 billion plan was too small, especially because a substantial share consisted of tax cuts that probably would have added little to demand. The plan should have been at least 50% larger.
    Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending — much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast — because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects — and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.
    My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.
    The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad.

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    WigWag,
    First of all, there’s the House/Senate conference — we don’t really know the final version of the bill that will pass. Some stuff will be restored, some stuff might be cut….
    Second, there are (at least) three crucial pressure points on Congress right now and these pressure points will be slow to shift.
    1. These people are desperate for re-election and thus need to avoid being primaried or opposed by the other party in any meaningful way — so they have to figure out what can be used against them, and what they can use. It’s helpful to have voted AGAINST arts funding (look up “that chocolate smeared woman”). It’s helpful to have voted for tax cuts. It’s helpful to have trimmed just about anything. (Remember that no one wants to be primaried.)
    2. There’s a general tendency within Congress to move towards the center of any debate. You keep the wings with you (they have no where else to go) and you pick off one or two or three people in the middle. The GANG is in this position. The issues these people have to deal with are a)figuring out where the center really is, and b)coping with the Gingrich-inspired refusal to do just this. There’s still too much push in the Repubs to go further to the right, and this strategy is what’s doing them in. Over time, this strategy will shift, assuming that the country continues to shift. Here is where Obama is playing for the long term and not just for today. The whole discourse of the country has to shift in order to make the push towards the right become utterly useless, and in order to make the center shift a few inches to the left. We’ll get more tax cuts (right-pleasing) and more bashing of the arts for a while, but it’ll ease up.
    3. Related to the above — the whole discourse of the country has been so slanted to the right for so long that office holders have a tough time knowing how to play right now. They may well want to do something good for the economy, but they can’t do that until they are re-elected. They, again, don’t want to be primaried, they don’t know how much to tie themselves to Obama (helps with the general election, but not with the primary). So what’s a member of Congress to do? Play to the base for now and try to figure out what the base wants in the future.
    As long as Obama is winning at some level, the discourse will move towards the left a millimeter at a time. THAT’S why there’s a dem in office instead of a Repub. He’s done a lot of DEM things and each one of these DEM things moves the country another small bit to the left. But there’s an eon of rightward movement, rightwing media, rightwing discourse to shove to the left. The political system here is incremental in its movement, is held back by endless fears of re-election and so will go slower than many would like.
    I think we’ll get there slowly. In the meantime, more people will indeed lose jobs and health care. There will be more excess deaths. It’s a sad fact of politics.
    And on a different topic, the New Yorker has a really interesting piece on money-laundering in the subprime mess. House-flipping to inflate the value of a Florida house from the low 100s to the upper 400s or 500s — sold and resold to people who have drug arrests, no income, no intention of living there…. Very interesting stuff. I wonder if there will ever be an audit state-by-state that correlates the housing bubble with organized crime.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ah yes.
    Jobs.
    May I suggest you google “E-VERIFY”, and ponder the reason that a number of our Congresspeople refuse to allow an “E-VERIFY” stipulation on companies that recieve federal moneys in this trillion dollar ass reaming we are about to get?
    Now why, pray tell, are they against these companies verifying the citizenship status of new hirees as a requirement of recieving federal money?? I thought these swindling pieces of shit were concerned about putting AMERICAN workers back to work.
    Now, be you right OR left, do you really want these federal monies being used to employ illegal immigrants???

    Reply

  6. WigWag says:

    Senators Appear to Reach Tentative Deal on Stimulus Package
    By Shailagh Murray, William Branigin and Paul Kane
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Friday, February 6, 2009; 8:47 PM
    Announcing the compromise on the Senate floor after a day of wrangling, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said a bipartisan group of negotiators agreed on a $780 billion package, cutting roughly $110 billion from the massive stimulus plan that had been under debate on the Senate floor.
    “We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows,” Nelson said. “Our plan pared back a very substantial amount of money that we believe didn’t belong . . . in a stimulus package.” He said the compromise includes $350 billion in tax cuts that would reach 95 percent of all Americans.
    Why exactly did we need to elect a Democratic President and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress to get a $350 billion tax cut? Wouldn’t Bush, McCain, Romney or any of the other Republicans been happy to give us a $350 billion tax cut?
    And why will this tax cut stimulate the economy when the Bush tax cuts didn’t?
    This is very depressing (no pun intended).

    Reply

  7. DonS says:

    Silver Slipper,let me guess. Libertarian! Right? Lot’s of good, high sounding, self reliant, you can make it too theory; little positive application in 21st century America, at least for the average guy or gal.
    Me. So far, I’ve only got a 19 inch TV; with rabbit ears. And an original sport “cute” – 97 CRV.
    As to the rich/poor gap. I’ve worked over 30 years with the “economically disadvantaged”, and I strangely continue to be concerned about economic disparity. Your lack of “concern” is interesting, but, I suppose, assuaged by the fact that you think the rich in America are “very benevolent”. While I philosophically see the issue with “socialism”, and the chimera of economic equality, I tend to find the excesses of the rich more in the category of pig sty than benevolence. However, I do agree, that money is as likely to not ward off anxiety as it is to produce it. I tend toward conservative, self reliant values.

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  8. silver slipper says:

    Paul,
    I just saw a mistake I made. I mean we’re only 0.018 points from Iceland & Norway – I see now they’re actually tied.

    Reply

  9. silver slipper says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for the information. I think the premise of equality in per capita as a method to judge the economic strength of a nation is not really a valid one. Does that mean we HAVE to be a more socialistic society to be equal with other nations? America is a great country because we ALL have such great opportunities. Anyone who studies hard, who is willing to learn from others, and who shows up to work on time has a wonderful chance of success. Our only limitation is the effort we put into our future! I’m happy with my level of living (and thankfully Don S, I don’t have debt from the SUV in my drive – I don’t own wide screen TVs – we only have one 21′ TV in our entire house.). I’m not envious of rich people. In fact, I’m glad I’m not as rich as some – I think large amount of riches brings anxiety, and perhaps in the end, unhappiness. I think the rich people of the US are very benevolent! I think all Americans are very giving! So I’m not sure the gap between the rich and poor is that concerning. I’m more concerned with our government absorbing so much wealth and taking over banks and companies in the name of TARP. The more control the government has, the less freedom we have!
    I’m also amazed at how close the scores are that you’ve provided. We are only 0.018 points from Ireland! It doesn’t seem like that much difference.
    A huge problem we have in this country is debt. If Americans want to fix that problem, our economy will suffer for a time, but in the long run we will be a much better nation.

    Reply

  10. DonS says:

    The vying currents are shifting fast and furious in the headlines:
    — “no vote today” . . . but soon
    — Nelson “pulling back”
    — the “centrist” mob is diddling about small change, mostly for philosophical reasons rather than economic impact
    — support for stimulus has been “waning”, but may have “stabilized” in the past few days.
    Seems like going over the head of these tinhorn politicians — oooh, the very serious and important Susan Collins ( “She proposed eliminating money in the bill for K-12 education while boosting funding for Pentagon operations”) — needs to be done.
    Like I said, I hope Obama is crazy like a fox.

    Reply

  11. WigWag says:

    This is what the New York Times says about the current state of negotiations over the economic recovery plan.
    “Members of the bipartisan group, led by Senators Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said they wanted to trim provisions that would not quickly create jobs or encourage spending by consumers and businesses. They have been scrutinizing the 736-page bill and wrangling over what to cut.
    By Thursday evening, aides said the group had drafted a list of nearly $90 billion in cuts, including $40 billion in aid for states, more than $14 billion for various education programs, $4.1 billion to make federal buildings energy efficient and $1.5 billion for broadband Internet service in rural areas. But they remained short of a deal.” (Obama Calls Delay on Stimulus Bill ‘Inexcusable’, NY Times, By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, Published: February 6, 2009)
    Aid to states, funding for education and support for weatherizing public buildings isn’t simulative but cutting taxes is? What a load of crap.
    Obama should be in Maine (which Obama won handily) and Nebraska (where he actually won one of the three electoral votes) ripping Collins and that turn-coat Nelson new ass-holes for daring to hold this up. What about using some of that fundraising prowess to raise money for TV ads attacking any Senator who refuses to vote for cloture on the bill?
    What has Obama gotten for his attempt to be bipartisan other than a kick in the shins? It’s time to play hard ball.
    I hope Obama knows how to play hard ball. If he does, he might actually accomplish alot during the next four years. If he doesn’t, we’re screwed.

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    Wigwag, being against “partisan bickering” is like motherhood and apple pie. Everyone’s against it. But Americans vote their pocketbooks, as they percieve their interest. Let’s face it; you don’t like what you perceive as Obama’s policies and use of style. I’m hoping he’s crazy like a fox, but I still don’t see him as a lefty when it comes to economics (somewhere inside I think there may very well be a mini Obama cringing at being villified like FDR).
    Americans in part still buy the Repub line that FDR ruined the country, much as they buy the PR campaign that turned Ronnie into a saint (though Regan was indeed a cold war thug who hit the economic cycle at a lucky time). But we still gladly cash our Social Security checks. So there is cognitive dissonance among an awful lot of folks.
    It’s not as clean as putting a “stake through the heart” of failed policy and the Republican/Blue Dog Regan redux fantasies, at least Obama the politician is not going to drive it enough to satisfy those of us who would gladly see them and their guru Rush Limbaugh disgraced and discredited. At least there is the polemist side of Nobel Laureate Krugman who can grab the pulpit and say the things Obama seems constrained from saying . . . and be listened to to some extent.
    Paul, if we all had as much oil per capita as Norway, we’d have to find newer ways to waste it!

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    “And, if economic data gave cause for arrogance Norway would
    be out in front ; )”
    Don: yeah, it certainly looks like I`ve got a license to be arrogant!
    Now I`ll go abroad and urge people all over the world to follow
    us ; )
    As a matter of fact, there is a foolish missionary attitude among
    many Norwegians – they seriously believe that if the world did
    like us, everything would be fine. Fortunately, we don`t have an
    army strong enough to force the world to become like us…

    Reply

  14. WigWag says:

    Rich, thank you for referring us to the Krugman piece (which I had seen) and the Pearlstein piece (which I had not). I agree with everything both columnists wrote.
    The level of stupidity of Republican commentary about the economic recovery bill is mind boggling. The idea that tax cuts are a superior way to stimulate the economy is just contradicted by economic theory and by our experience of the past several years. In the 1990s, marginal tax rates on the wealthy increased and the economy expanded at the fastest rate in 20 years. Ever since Bush cut tax rates, economic growth has been tepid or nonexistent.
    I think that it’s heartbreaking that at the insistence of Republicans money is being removed from the stimulus bill that would have paid for research into comparative health outcomes, to weatherize government buildings, to provide contraceptive information and to replace the government vehicle fleet with hybrids. Spending on all of these things would have had a stimulative effect and they are all smart things to spend money on. Why should the Democrats cave in to Republican demands that these items be removed especially when politcally, they don’t have to?
    I find it very frustrating when President Obama tells the public that Democrats have no monopoly on good ideas and that Republican thinking should be incorporated into the stimulus bill. Republicans don’t have good ideas; while both parties share in the blame, it was mostly Republican ideas that got us into this fix in the first place. To the extent Democrats are to blame it was because they began sounding like Republicans.
    Obama should be using his rhetorical gifts to explain to the public that Republican policies caused this problem and that only by eschewing Republican policies will we be able to remedy the economic malaise we find ourselves in.
    One of the major reasons that the voters gave Obama such a resounding victory was that they were fed up with Bush and the Republicans. The public realized that Republican policies had failed. The President is making a mistake by giving the Republicans a pass; instead he should be skewering them.
    Elsewhere at the Washington Note Dan Kervick has suggested that Americans are sick of partisan bickering and that one of the reasons Obama was elected was his pledge to create comity between the political parties.
    This may be partly correct; but I think the public is far more interested in a healthy economy and keeping their jobs than they are in a reduction in bickering between Democrats and Republicans.
    The time has come to drive a stake through the heart of the philosophy that says that tax cuts, restrained spending and an unwillingness to use the tax code to achieve income redistribution are virtues. They’re not.
    Obama has the popular support, talent and eloquence to explain this to Americans. Better that he should do it then waste his time telling everyone Republicans really aren’t so bad.
    They are, so bad.

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    Silver Slipper, I just did some brief googling on data, but Paul is more thorough. And, if economic data gave cause for arrogance Norway would be out in front ; )
    But even just considering economics, looking at averages doesn’t tell the whole story, especially with the vast distortions at top and bottom that the US seems to specialize in these days.
    So by all means let’s “take pride” in the economic engine, sputtering though it is. Actually, I don’t think raw economics says a whole bunch about quality of life, and I would trade off numerous countries to the US on that score. But it’s whatever floats your boat, and if having two or three huge flat screen tv’s and a huge SUV that you can’t afford to drive is your measure of quality of life, then the US is on top on that score too. Just don’t look too hard at the health care quality and cost data.
    As to the realitively “high” level of the US working poor, you know, that data isn’t cause for much joy either. It’s like taking crumbs of the economic pie, and being hypnotized into thinking you’re living the good life. E.g., the booze and cigarettes, rampant among the poor. Why? Not only the addicitive properties, but reaching for (economic) “luxury” goods within grasp as a substitute for something more filling.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    Hi, silver slipper,
    there is no arrogance in taking pride in your country, and I`ve
    even heard Ethiopians saying that their country is the best in
    the world. The arrogance comes in when you say that the rest
    of the world should “follow us”.
    And why are you excluding the homeless and the poor? If you
    only count the very wealthy people in some African countries, I
    guess you`ll find out that they have a pretty high living
    standard as well…
    According to the UN Human Development Index, USA currently
    comes in below the top ten, as nr. 12 or 15. It`s difficult to
    paste from their site, so here are some data from Wikipedia,
    under the title “Standard of living in the United States:
    “The standard of living in the United States is one of the top 20
    in the world by the standards economists use as measures of
    standards of living. Per capita income is high but also less
    evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a
    result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of
    average material well being that do not place weight on equality
    aspects.
    On comprehensive measures such as the UN Human
    Development Index the United States is always in the top
    twenty, currently ranking 12th. On the Human Poverty Index the
    United States ranked 16th, one rank below the United Kingdom
    and one rank above Ireland.[4] On the Economist’s quality-of-
    life index the United States ranked 13th, in between Finland and
    Canada, scoring 7.6 out of a possible 10. The highest given
    score of 8.3 was applied to Ireland. This particular index takes
    into account a variety of socio-economic variables including
    GDP per capita, life expectancy, political stability, family life,
    community life, gender equality, and job security.[5]
    The homeownership rate is relatively high compared to other
    post-industrial nations. In 2005, 69% of Americans resided in
    their own homes, roughly the same percentage as in the United
    Kingdom, Belgium, Israel and Canada.[6] [7] [8] Residents of the
    United States also enjoy a high access to consumer goods.
    Americans enjoy more radios per capita than any other nation
    [9] and more televisions and personal computers per capita
    than any other large nation.[10] [11]
    The median income is $43,318 per household ($26,000 per
    household member)[1] with 42% of households having two
    income earners.[12] Meanwhile, the median income of the
    average American age 25+ was roughly $32,000[2] ($39,000 if
    only counting those employed full-time between the ages of 25
    to 64) in 2005.[3] According to the CIA the gini index which
    measures income inequality (the higher the less equal the
    income distribution) was clocked at 45.0 in 2005,[13] compared
    to 32.0 in the European Union[14] and 28.3 in Germany.[15]
    |The US has… a per capita GDP [PPP] of $42,000… The [recent]
    onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development
    of a “two-tier labor market”… Since 1975, practically all the
    gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of
    households… The rise in GDP in 2004 and 2005 was
    undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity… Long-
    term problems include inadequate investment in economic
    infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an
    aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and
    stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. -CIA
    factbook on the US economy, 2005.[13]
    The United States has one of the widest rich-poor gaps of any
    high-income nation today, and that gap continues to grow.[16]
    In recent times, some prominent economists including Alan
    Greenspan have warned that the widening rich-poor gap in the
    U.S. population is a problem that could undermine and
    destabilize the country’s economy and standard of living stating
    that “The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US
    population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it
    might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism
    itself”.[17]
    Median Wages have been on the decline in the United States
    since 1974. In 2004, the median income for a man in his 30s
    was $35,010. Adjusted for inflation, that’s 12 percent less than
    what men the same age were making in 1974. [18]””
    OK, I`ll try to paste a 2008 statistical update of the Human
    Development index list – the top thirty:
    1 Iceland 0.968 (▬)
    2 Norway 0.968 (▬)
    3 Canada 0.967 (▲ 1)
    4 Australia 0.965 (▼ 1)
    5 Ireland 0.960 (▬)
    6 Netherlands 0.958 (▲ 3)
    7 Sweden 0.958 (▼ 1)
    8 Japan 0.956 (▬)
    9 Luxembourg 0.956 (▲ 9)
    10 Switzerland 0.955 (▼ 3)
    11 France 0.955 (▼ 1)
    12 Finland 0.954 (▼ 1)
    13 Denmark 0.952 (▲ 1)
    14 Austria 0.951 (▲ 1)
    15 United States 0.950 (▼ 3)
    16 Spain 0.949 (▼ 3)
    17 Belgium 0.948 (▼ 1)
    18 Greece 0.947 (▲ 6)
    19 Italy 0.945 (▲ 1)
    20 New Zealand 0.944 (▼ 1)
    21 United Kingdom 0.942 (▼ 5)
    22 Hong Kong 0.942 (▼ 1)
    23 Germany 0.940 (▼ 1)
    24 Israel 0.930 (▼ 1)
    25 South Korea 0.928 (▲ 1)
    26 Slovenia 0.923 (▲ 1)
    27 Brunei 0.919 (▲ 3)
    28 Singapore 0.918 (▼ 3)
    29 Kuwait 0.912 (▲ 4)
    30 Cyprus 0.912 (▼ 2)
    BTW, your country is great on so many levels, and you have
    every reason to be proud. But there are obviously a lot of
    shortcomings and weaknesses as well, just like in my country
    and every other place on the planet.

    Reply

  17. silver slipper says:

    Paul Norheim Feb 05, 3:15PM – I think all of us have some amount of ignorance. Or to say it another way, ‘None of us know everything!’. When I said ‘America does it best’, I was referring strictly to economics. Do we not have the highest living standard in the world? Even persons in poverty have cars, TVs, computers, cable, etc…(I know I’m excluding the extremely poor – i.e. homeless). Those things I’ve just listed I consider luxuries. Necessities are food, shelter, clothing. Why is it arrogance to take pride in our country?

    Reply

  18. DavidT says:

    Hey my fellow posters. Check out the following piece critical (fairly and a bit unsettling, I might add) of the foreign policy staffing of the Obama Administration. It contains a nice quote from our Steve Clemons.
    http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=49BA8365-18FE-70B2-A847289E39B4C5AA

    Reply

  19. DavidT says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for the factual correction (yeah I goofed). Much appreciated.

    Reply

  20. rich says:

    wigwag and DanKervick:
    Re the hair-splitting argument about infrastructure vs. other spending, Pearlstein and Krugman made my point much more effectively. Mid- & longer-run infrastructure spending does matter; stimulative spending that’s not necessarily tax cuts or infrastructure projects will help in the short-run.
    Not sayin you necessarily disagree .. . but check out Pearlstein and Krugman:
    Steven Pearlstein:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/05/AR2009020503413.html
    Paul Krugman:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/opinion/06krugman.html

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….to collaborate with an evil foreign regime against the interest of your people”
    Hmmm…..I’d say incinerating children with White Phosphorous is “evil”, wouldn’t you? So’s starvin’ em.
    “Quisling”.
    Hmmmm.
    Whataya think about that, Wig-wag?

    Reply

  22. Paul Norheim says:

    “The online Webster indicates that the word “quisling” is named
    after a Dutch politician who collaborated with the Nazis.”
    (DavidT)
    In that case, Webster is incorrect. Vidkun Quisling was
    (unfortunately) a Norwegian Prime Minister during WWII, who
    created a Nationalistic Nazi sympathetic party, and who
    collaborated with Hitlers Third Reich. He also wrote some
    philosophical books that were very ambitious, and tried to
    explain the essential secrets of the world and the development
    of human beings. He got a death sentence and was executed in
    Oslo after the war. In the international context, a quisling is a
    traitor.
    To claim that Obama is a “quisling” while he “reaches out” to
    republicans instead of solely building on his support in the
    Democratic party he belongs to, is, I believe, an unusual and
    very extreme choice of words, given the historical context and
    how the word “quisling” usually is used in the international
    context: to collaborate with an evil foreign regime against the
    interest of your people.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its really quite amusing watching Washington nip hamstrings along partisan lines on the economy thing. You’d think some of these pieces of shit woulda shown some curiousity about where the 2.3 TRILLION dollars the DOD “misplaced” during Zakhiem’s tenure went. I guess a trillion dollars is only significant if you aren ‘t stealing it. (Oh, oops, I forgot, they ARE stealing this latest trillion. From us.)
    But, uh, if a coupla trillion simply comes up “missing”, during the comptrollership of someone that, (coincidentally, I’m sure,) has dual Israeli/US citizenship, lets just ignore it. Just call me ignorant, uninformed, and a hopeless conspiracy theorist, but I’d kinda like to know where that two trillion got off to.
    Uh, I mean, hey, if we had that two trillion now, that WE THE TAXPAYERS forked over then, we wouldn’t have to fork over the trillion they are currently trying to screw us out of, would we?

    Reply

  24. rich says:

    Dan,
    ‘scuse me if I erred in assuming you were repeating RNC talking points. Sorry.
    78% of the stimulus package will pay out over the first two years, according to the CBO and Orszag. That’s the Senate version, apparently. The House bill comes in at 64% spent in two years.
    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/02/02/how-quickly-will-the-stimulus-kick-in.aspx
    DanK:
    “What WigWag has been arguing is that we need more infrastructure spending, and fewer tax cuts. But it is precisely the infrastructure spending parts of the bill which will *not* kick in rapidly. To get sufficient short term stimulus, we needed more of the things which will kick in rapidly, not more of the long-term projects.”
    I saw this exchange and I don’t see what the controversy is. Of course we need more infrastructure spending–what we’ve got shovel-ready (short-term) isn’t enough for stimulative or infrastructure purposes—and we need it on a massive scale: at least ten times what I believe they’ve got ready to go will be necessary in the short- to medium-term.
    At the same time, other portions of the spending are not only necessary, but as you say can kick in sooner. While some targeted tax cuts may be useful, I don’t agree that’s the answer: the model’s been tried for 8 years and it’s failed. No business will start hiring just because they get a tax cut, because no one’s buying; no one’s gonna start buying til they have a secure and reasonable wage. Public works projects are essential now and later, and it’s imperative to plan those immediately and get the ball rolling–which will also employ people. That’s not an argument against other spending that has a stimulative effect.

    Reply

  25. DavidT says:

    Wigwag,
    Thanks for your thoughtful response.
    Your quisling reference like your ML King / Johnson reference doesn’t provide the whole picture. I wasn’t clear in my previous post re: who you were calling names and understand that you meant the president himself rather than his supporters. Sorry about that. However to suggest that a “quisling” means a collaborator without context is to distort how your use of the word will come across (and I believe is intended — if you had said you objected to “Obama collaborating with the Republicans” it would be hard to quarrel with you). The online Webster indicates that the word “quisling” is named after a Dutch politician who collaborated with the Nazis. That means, at least, to me, something very different from say Ted Kennedy collaborating with Orrin Hatch on legislation (even if you use the word collaboration in this context as well).
    I believe “quisling” is a synonym for traitor which again may be what you wish to convey but reminds me again of one of the things I so despised about our last president, that those who harbored different views from him were unpatriotic. As I said before, its also a Clinton style which I am happy to be rid of.
    To me fighting for what you believe in and calling others nasty names is different. I also think with the government we have, unfortunately, and the country still very mixed about government and very mixed about the stimulus, accommodating some Republican views is smart. I know that I may nearly alone amongst the posters here, but so be it. Individual Republicans may not give ground you are right. This is one way of focusing the conversation. However I don’t just care about individual Republican votes but public perception of a bipartisan approach. The Republican House members can say what they want but it will be harder to characterize this administration as partisan as was the case with Bush. That doesn’t get you help from the Dittoheads but nothing will (any more than any policy will get you the support of Osama bin Laden).
    I believe that the more partisan our government looks, the less likely we’ll have Health care reform which we both evidently care about. That, I think, was one of the important lessons of the Clinton health care fiasco (sorry to mention this but I couldn’t help myself). I don’t see how you bolster confidence in our government by not working with the other party (however you may feel about their membership).

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Just to check in on the “process” aspect of the comments, versus the “substance”. And I really don’t want to pile on Wigwag. Substance it seems is more important. But Wigwag is so intense, articulate, opinionated and prolific that her comments carry weight, or at least bulk.
    I have said before that Wigwag is untrustworthy on the subject of Israel because she uses artiface to promote the Zionist cause. So I take that into account; just the way it is.
    But on the Obama bashing and Hillary/supporer sore loser stuff, it does get old. Most folks here are grownup enough not to have stars in our eyes about Obama, and never did, so in some ways Wigwag is picking a fight with a straw man that doesn’t exist. But I guess it’s something she has to do, and its cheaper than therapy.
    Of course anything can be construed as a zero sum game, as Paul alludes to: its either got to be good for the universe (Hillary initiated) or bad for the universe (anything but Hillary). Sorry Wigwag, but that’s the way it comes off most of the time. I sure wish that straw man would be gotten rid of. It’s not a case where looking back is a good thing lest we should repeat “mistakes”, not that the folks here are even causally “responsible”, or there were mistakes. It’s not comparable to seeking accountability from Bush and needing to absolutely vivisect that past.
    I look forward to a less obsessed Wigwag, where you don’t have to cull so much to get to the helpful stuff (except, as of yet, on Israel).

    Reply

  27. WigWag says:

    DavidT, you have somewhat mischaracterized what I said. I did not call Obama supporters quislings; I called President Obama a quisling.
    The Oxford English Dictionary defines “quisling” as a “collaborator.” By collaborating with Republicans instead of working to marginalize them, Obama is behaving like a quisling.
    If there was something to be gained by kissing up to Republicans I might be able to understand it. But nothing will be gained. As I said earlier, the Republicans will take whatever Obama is willing to give them but offer nothing in return. America will be a weaker, nastier and less prosperous place if Republican ideas are incorporated into Obama’s policies, not a stronger, kinder or more prosperous place.
    Is this the same approach we’re going to see when its time to reform health care? If it is, you can kiss a good health care reform package good bye. During the winter and spring of 2008 one big difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was that Clinton insisted that health insurance coverage had to be universal and that penalties needed to be enforced if necessary to insure that it was. Obama equivocated about the importance of universality. When the time comes to address health care, all of the Republicans, including the moderate ones like Snowe, Collins and Spector are going to object to universality if it means imposing penalties on employers or individuals who refuse to purchase coverage. Without requiring every individual to be insured, health care reform will be dramatically less successful than it would be with a mandate.
    If Obama’s behavior on the stimulus bill foreshadows his behavior on health care reform, it will be tragic.
    Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. From the looks of it, Obama either doesn’t have the stomach for a fight or he doesn’t believe in anything.
    My guess is that it’s the later.

    Reply

  28. Paul Norheim says:

    What you`re witnessing, David, is that WigWag is ridiculing, and
    will continue to ridicule the Obama supporters whatever Obama
    actually does during the next four or eight years.
    She ridicules them (and B.O.) because Obama is reaching out to
    republicans (whom WigWag doesn`t like).
    She ridicule them (and B.O.) because he select people from the
    Clinton camp (whom WigWag loves).
    And she would ridicule them (and B.O.) even more if he had
    chosen people from his own camp, whom she with 100 %
    certainty would accuse of completely lacking experience and
    character.
    She`s been singing this melody for months now, and it`s very
    predictable.

    Reply

  29. DavidT says:

    Wigwag,
    Not sure why you are so down on Obama supporters. What I do know is that your approach of referring those whose approach you don’t agree with as “quisling” is comparable to the Bush approach to calling into question the patriotism of opponents of his policies. This is a style that the Clinton’s have tended to favor (a kind of bunker mentality) so I understand how you are more comfortable with Hillary given that this is her style. But other than making you feel better I’m not sure how it helps the progressive cause.
    Many here think reaching out to Republicans is a mistake. I disagree. I agree that I would prefer many fewer tax cuts in the bill however Obama did promise some of them in his campaign so those calling him a sell out might have ignored some of what he campaigned on.
    I believe the only hope for the progressive cause is a restoration of the American people’s confidence in their public institutions. This will be near impossible to accomplish in a brutally partisan manner (its much much easier for the Republicans to tear down the government and its reputation than for progressives to argue that the government is an indispensable tool in helping us deal with intractable problems). The administration has not handled the stimulus bill well (I would have preferred if it had been more explicit about what it wanted at least initially rather than let the Congress provide the first draft of the specifics of the legislation). But its not, unfortunately, operating in a vacuum.
    I may be alone but just because there are a number of people from the Clinton Administration in the Obama Administration (if you wish for experienced people I don’t know that there are many other places to find them unless you prefer to pull from 41 or 43’s administration), doesn’t mean this administration is a repeat of that administration. To me so far, at least, this administration looks very different than Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or W Bush, a change that I feel is quite welcome.
    Secondly, you refer to the MLKing and LBJ team on civil rights reference during the campaign. I mentioned this as an example of groups on the inside and outside working in concert. However I’m not running against an African-American candidate that if there is excessive focus on his race may marginalize his candidacy. Was it an accident that Clinton used this example in the campaign? If I run against a German-American candidate and make truthful references to Hitler is that not incendiary (that Hitler inspired the country with his misplaced words the way candidate x does)? Don’t know what the Obama campaign’s role was in this matter but it was questionable judgment on Senator Clinton’s part (in same way that the reference to Jesse Jackson’s tally in South Carolina in comparison to Obama’s may have had merit but was still incendiary).
    Thanks for hearing me out.

    Reply

  30. Dan Kervick says:

    Rich, you are right to point out that the original estimate the Republicans jumped on was based only on an initial draft of the infrastructure appropriations portion of the bill. The full CBO report said that $526 billion of the total $816 billion cost would reach the economy by the end of fiscal 2010. That’s about 65% of the total, not 65% of the infrastructure component alone. My understanding is that the CBO estimate of the infrastructure component in the full report is not much different than in the earlier draft report: 47% over 24 months.
    That 65%, of course, includes tax cuts, medicare benefits and unemployment benefits. The Obama proposal, remember, always had a substantial middle class tax cut provision even before any discussions with Congress. However, the 65% number falls short of the 75% Obama was aiming for by the end of FY 2010, which is one reason why members of Congress from *both* parties have been amending the bill, with Obama’s cooperation, to get more up front spending and/or tax breaks included.
    It’s important to keep track of the differences between the infrastructure appropriations and the other parts of the bill. What WigWag has been arguing is that we need more infrastructure spending, and fewer tax cuts. But it is precisely the infrastructure spending parts of the bill which will *not* kick in rapidly. To get sufficient short term stimulus, we needed more of the things which will kick in rapidly, not more of the long-term projects. And that includes tax breaks.

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    paul – indeed, whether it be knowing much about usa’s role in iran circa 1953, or anything else for that matter… the american public have been dumbed down and are easily manipulated.. the iraq war was an unnecessary war.. it doesn’t mean the usa can’t have another even more unnecessary war in iran, as the populace are sheep for the most part, and their economy is based on war and military spending..

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    “Posted by silver slipper Feb 05, 1:56PM – Link
    (………) I say America does it best. Let’s let the rest of the world
    follow us.”
    —————
    Ignorance and arrogance is an unbeatable combination.

    Reply

  33. rich says:

    Dan Kervick 1:53PM –
    “WigWag, the bill contains almost $300 billion in infrastructure spending. That’s massive. . . . But Obama and the Congress were both told that only a very small percentage of that medicine would make its way into the economic bloodstream by the end of this year. That is not a canard.”
    Yes, that IS a canard. Republicans glommed onto a preliminary CBO look at a ~$280 billion piece of an early draft of the stimulus bill. That early look at only ~one-third of the total package indicated that about half the bill wouldn’t be spent by end of 2010. So they revised the bill to reflect the new information.
    Repubs claimed it was a ‘study’ of the entire bill. There was no study. It didn’t cover the entire bill, nor did it assess the final bill. But the Repubs repeated the canard over and over again.
    Half-a-dozen bloggers debunked the Republican lie a full 10 days ago. Yet our dear ‘objective journalist’ friends in the MSM Media picked up the now-wholly discredited lie and recycled it again and again–a full week after it’d been killed dead.
    Even though OMB Director Peter Orzsag issued a second statement, this time in letter form, pointing out the misinformation and when funding would be spent for the whole bill. I believe 75% of the full $850 billion will hit within 18 months/end 2010. Going on memory.
    I dug this sh!tpile story out once here at TWN, comprehensively and with full linkage, so you’ll have to do your own research this time. Search Orzsag at TPM.
    Dan, where the hell are you getting your information? You post great, thoughtful comments; I respect you. But mindlessly sucking down the most instantly obvious and quiveringly unstable pustule of a lie to come down the pike in 45 years is really beneath you. (I’d say 8 years, but Bush on Iraq is another category.) I expect better. This is basic information. And the willingness of broadcast ‘journalists’ to repeat that lie speaks volumes about their true function and who they really work for. It ain’t you and me.

    Reply

  34. silver slipper says:

    I find it the comparison of the percentage of GDP “controlled by government” in the US to that in Japan, and Europe very interesting. 1. Does it have anything to do with our GDP is so much larger than other countries, and that the overall employment & income for Americans is better than other countries, and therefore, not as much “control” (and I guess you mean by that spending) by government is needed? 2. While the comparisons are made, isn’t it interesting that these other countries also have much lower capital gains and corporate taxes? 3. Why do we have to be like the rest of the world anyway? I say America does it best. Let’s let the rest of the world follow us.

    Reply

  35. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, the bill contains almost $300 billion in infrastructure spending. That’s massive. More would probably be good. But Obama and the Congress were both told that only a very small percentage of that medicine would make its way into the economic bloodstream by the end of this year. That is not a canard. Spending that hits in 2010, 2011 and 2012 is not going to ward off double-digit unemployment in the very near term. And if there are not more immediate, concrete results to show during the 2010 election cycle, you can kiss the Democratic Congress goodbye. A balance had to be struck between the longer-term projects, that progressives all recognize are needed, and short-term stimulus.
    Both tax cuts and government spending are components of the classical Keynesian program for stimulating economic activity by running government deficits and injecting money into the economy. It’s just as crude to say “tax cuts are bad economic policy” as it is to say “government spending is bad economic policy”. It really depends where the spending or tax cuts are targeted. I’m sure you understand the difference between saying that *on average*, government spending provides more stimulus than tax cuts, and saying that *every* spending initiative provides more stimulus than *any* tax cut. The latter by no means follows from the first.
    Roosevelt spent his first 100 days on shorter-term projects: banking reform, a plan to boost agriculture prices and a variety of relief programs that provided money right away. The WPA was not created until 1935. Unfortunately, the Depression recovery was probably much delayed, because economists were still enamored of lingering Hooverism: economic theories that called for balanced budgets even in a severely depressed economy. Even Roosevelt was not able to break free of these theories. They should have spent more money *and* cut more taxes, and worried about the deficit later.

    Reply

  36. Paul Norheim says:

    “You know perfectly well, Paul, because we’ve discussed it, that I
    think it would be spectacularly stupid for either Israel or the
    United States to attack Iran.”
    Yeah, so you say, WigWag. But I have to admit that I`m biased
    on this – I predict that your outrage towards Netanyahu`s
    actions in such a scenario will be very mild, compared to your
    schadenfreude towards a handful of commenters at TWN who
    happened to hope that Obama would be a better president than
    Bush.
    It`s not hard to imagine: The Middle East in flames, and WigWag
    in Florida, triumphant, filled with glee: “Hey, folks, is this the
    change you had hoped for?” (Moral: why were you so fucking
    stupid that you didn`t vote for Hillary?)
    You`ve been singing this melody for months now, WigWag.
    Time to find a new song.

    Reply

  37. WigWag says:

    Paul Norheim says “And WigWag`s reaction if Israel attacks Iran with a little help from their US friends? Only schadenfreude, I guess – a bit of LOL LOL LOL on behalf of those commenters at TWN who allowed themselves to hope that Obama would represent
    change.”
    You know perfectly well, Paul, because we’ve discussed it, that I think it would be spectacularly stupid for either Israel or the United States to attack Iran.
    Dan Kervick says “But the problem with the infrastructure spending, as I understand it, is that it was found that there were just not enough “shovel ready” projects available.”
    I’ve heard this alot too, but it is a canard. The economy is in extremis now; it will be in bleak shape for years to come. Projects that are not shovel ready today will be shovel ready six months from now or a year from now or two years from now. There will still be need for massive stimulus when these projects are ready to go. But the political climate to approve these projects will never be better than it is now. If Obama doesn’t include enough infrastructure projects in the stimulus plan now, it is highly likely that he may never have a chance to get them again.
    Dan Kervick also says “One problem right now with the national debate, especially in the blogosphere, is that we’ve got a bunch of knowledge-class pundits in New York and Washington, who don’t seem to know much about how 75% of the country actually lives and works…”
    You may be right about the blogosphere. But that 75 percent of the country you’re talking about is still benefiting today (almost 80 years later) from streets, highways, public buildings, art and music created by workers hired by the Works Progress Administration. When Roosevelt created that program he accomplished three things: (1) he provided jobs to the unemployed; (2) he stimulated the economy through the multiplier effect the wages paid to those workers had when they circulated through the economy; (3) he created lasting infrastructure that benefited future generations and accelerated economic growth for decades. Tax cuts do none of that. But they do make Republicans happy.
    The share of GDP controlled by government in the United States is too small not too big. It’s significantly smaller than the percentage of GDP controlled by most Western European nations or Japan. Tax cuts are bad economic policy. Dramatically increased public spending is good economic policy.
    Obama isn’t stupid; he knows this. But he thinks his mandate from the public is to make sure the political parties treat each other deferentially.
    He’s wrong. His mandate is to fix the economy.
    Kissing republican ass won’t make that any easier.
    Linda says, “Somehow in two weeks we do have some “real Democratic agenda” like Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and passage of SCHIP.”
    Yes you’re right. Those are very good things. So was granting a waiver to California on mileage standards. But they required no Presidential leadership just a Presidential signature. SCHIP was actually passed by Congress last year (and met a 60 vote threshold in the Senate). It only failed because Congress couldn’t override the Bush veto. The Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed with substantial support from Republican women in the House and Senate.
    It’s not that these things aren’t good; they are. It’s that they tell us nothing about Obama’s willingness to fight for important things. On that score, so far things look pretty bad.

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    A comment to POA`s post: Not only “a REAL Palestinian
    bonfire”, but also a real Persian bonfire, incinerating “the
    lunatics”.
    Here is an excerpt from Roger Cohen`s op.ed. in todays NYT:
    “I’ve read think-tank scenarios that have the United States
    bombing Iran’s nuclear installations at Natanz, hitting Iranian
    military bases to limit the response, imposing a naval blockade
    and infiltrating special forces from Iraq or Afghanistan. After
    eight Bush-Cheney years, such plans exist at the Pentagon.
    To which my response is: Hang on a second.
    The United States’ role in the 1953 coup here that deposed the
    Middle East’s first democratically elected government lives in
    memory. Any U.S. attack would propel 56-year-old Iranian
    demons into overdrive and lock in an America-hating Islamic
    Republic for the next half-century.
    From Basra through Kabul to the Paris suburbs, Muslim rage
    would erupt. The Iranian Army is not the Israeli Army, but its
    stubborn effectiveness is in no doubt. Rockets from Hezbollah
    and Hamas, and newly tested Iranian long-range missiles,
    would hit Israel.
    Chaos would threaten Persian Gulf states, oil markets and the
    grinding U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. war
    front, in the first decade of the 21st century, at a time of
    national economic disaster, would stretch thousands of miles
    across the Muslim world, from western Iraq to eastern
    Afghanistan.
    It is doubtful that a bombing campaign would end Iran’s nuclear
    ambitions, so all the above might be the price paid for putting
    off an Iranian bomb — or mastery of the production of fissile
    material — by a year or so.
    In short, the U.S. military option is not an option. It is
    unthinkable.
    This is the poisoned chalice handed Obama by Bush, who
    responded to Iranian help in Afghanistan in 2001 by consigning
    Iran to the axis of evil, rebuffed credible approaches by the
    former moderate president, Mohammad Khatami, and
    undermined European diplomacy.
    No, the real “Red Line” will be set by Israel.
    Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s leading candidate to become
    prime minister after elections next week, has said “everything
    that is necessary” will be done to stop Iran going nuclear. I
    believe him.
    Never again is never again. There’s no changing that Israeli
    lens, however distorting it may be in a changed world. That
    could mean an Israeli attack on Iran within a year. If the U.S.
    military option is unthinkable, equally unthinkable is the United
    States abandoning Israel.”
    ——————-
    And WigWag`s reaction if Israel attacks Iran with a little help
    from their US friends? Only schadenfreude, I guess – a bit of
    LOL LOL LOL on behalf of those commenters at TWN who
    allowed themselves to hope that Obama would represent
    change.
    P.S.
    Sorry for being a bit off topic here, but I happen to be a
    climatologist, not an economist.

    Reply

  39. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, government jobs on special projects tend not to last as long as private sector jobs. So, it is entirely reasonable to look for ways of getting the private sector to create jobs. One way is stimulating private sector investment by doing public sector investment in new ventures on which private sector businesses will depend and be interdependent. Some of the green jobs and infrastructure proposals in the bill, of which there is much, will do that. But another way is to provide direct incentives to business for job creation. I just heard today that the cost-of-employment number went up again last month. The government needs to help drive that number down, or counteract it in some way, or businesses will be forced to continue the epidemic of layoffs as their sales plummet.
    Yes, government spending tends to create more stimulus than straight tax cuts. But the problem with the infrastructure spending, as I understand it, is that it was found that there were just not enough “shovel ready” projects available. The original Obama package contained a higher proportion of longer term projects, and I expect more of that will come later. But between the election and the inauguration the recession deepened tremendously, and Obama learned the situation was much more bleak and and urgent than it appeared in the early fall. That forced him to front load more of the stimulus spending into tax cuts and other measures that would put money in people’s hands fast. This isn’t all about being “nice” to Republicans.
    Obviously, major health care reform is coming during this first term. But that is a separate domestic challenge, and little of it amounts to what can be properly classified as an economic stimulus. Unfortunately, “economic stimulus” is being used these as a euphemism for “every piece of good domestic legislation I would like to pass.”
    We’re trying to save many, many jobs in the auto industry, one of the most important industries in our economy, and in the communities and subsidiary businesses that depend on the auto industry at the same time. As far as Mikulski’s bill goes, it’s just not true that all those people would be buying a car anyway. Right now, due to a combination of tight credit and epidemic fear, nobody is spending any money. As a result, jobs are being slashed everywhere. The government needs to get money in people’s pockets and grease the wheels of ordinary commerce. Now maybe there are better ways to do this, and maybe there aren’t. There are lots of car dealerships in Maryland, and Mikulski is just doing what a good legislator does – fighting for the kinds of stimulus that she thinks will directly benefit her own constituents. I’m sure they have different ideas out in Montana, for example. Let them fight it out through the legislative process in Congress.
    One problem right now with the national debate, especially in the blogosphere, is that we’ve got a bunch of knowledge-class pundits in New York and Washington, who don’t seem to know much about how 75% of the country actually lives and works, and whose idea of a stimulus package is a light rail line that will take them on a free ride from their apartment buildings down to their favorite Sushi restaurant or night club. As recently as a couple of months ago, they were also arguing that we should depress the economy further by taxing the crap out of gasoline. Frankly, that’s crazy talk in this environment. A lot of progressives have still failed to make the mental shift from their hopeful long-term progressive domestic agenda, suitable for 2006 or 2007 and which I continue to support, and the urgent needs of recession or depression era emergencies. They are engaging in all sorts of wishful thinking about how their favorite long term projects for wind farms are going to save jobs and prevent chain reactions of economic collapse over the next 12 months.
    I work for a corporation that does wholesaling. Things are very bad, but not as bad as they are for some other companies because we sell into diverse market channels, and some are not failing as badly as others. But I can tell you that the situation among our retail customers is scary. It’s part of my job to run the numbers, so I know.

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The intrestin’ thing about you, Wig-Wag, is this metamorphosis you have undergone since you arrived here. Initially, you only engaged yourself in threads that involved Israel, presenting yourself as a staunch zionist, and excusing all things AIPAC. Your rap was straight out of the AIPAC script, and your favorite tactic was the ‘ol “anti-semitism” schtick, salted with the occassional “AIPAC is just like any other lobby” fiction.
    Then, along came Hillary as the presidential candidate, and you became smitten to the point of swooning blubbering insanity, even after her loss. Of course, its no coincidence that Hillary is an AIPAC darling, whereas Obama, at one time, was a question mark as to how he would deal with Israel, and his “plight of the palestininians” comment undoubtedly caused your butt to pucker considerably.
    But what is inexplicable, now that Hillary is in at State, and Obama has shown us that Israel is still the landlord that we rent the Oval Office from, why your panties are still in a bunch. Fear not, dear Wiggie, your heroes can still incinerate those nasty little Palestinian rug-rats at will, and Netanyahu and Lieberman are about to show the world what a REAL Palestinian bonfire looks like. Looks to me like you won, Wiglet, so get your head out of your ass and gloat.

    Reply

  41. WigWag says:

    “Where are your plans? Where are your policy proposals? I do see one substantive post on Hamas. But beyond that, I don’t see you contributing much here other than pure politics.”
    Sorry my posts aren’t substantive enough for you. I wasn’t elected President, Barack Obama was. It’s not my responsiblity to come up with plans or proposals; it’s his responsibility.
    My major objection to the stimulus bill as it is being considered by the Senate is that it contains too many tax cuts and not enough infrastructure spending. Tax cuts (which is many cases will be saved not spent) are not as efficient a way to stimulate the economy as direct government spending is.
    If we had a $900 billion spending program aimed at both health care and infrastructure we would get the stimulative effects we need to create jobs and move the economy in the direction of amerliorating the insufficient aggregate demand it currently suffers from. At the same time, we would be creating resources that would be valuable for economic growth for a generation. Tax cuts do none of this.
    One perfect example is the idiotic tax cut that Democrat Barabara Mikulski just got passed by the Senate (the idea was originally a Republican one). The Senate passed her amendment to rebate sales taxes paid by consumers who purchase a car. Of course billions of this tax rebate will be wasted on people who were planning to buy cars anyway.
    Wouldn’t it be far better to use the billions of dollars this will cost to create government jobs programs that employ people directly to build roads, bridges, mass transportation, improve the electircal grid, etc? By giving those workers employed by such a program jobs, you would enable them to have the income they needed to purchase automobiles and the economy would benefit over time from the fruit of their labor; the infrastructure they build would last for generations.
    Another terribly inefficient tax program is Obama’s plan to give businesses a tax credit for job creation. It would be far better to save the tens of billions this will cost and just use it to create government jobs directly.
    By acquiescing to this and other tax cut programs, Obama is ruining the stimulus bill. He should limit tax cuts to 10 percent of the total stimulus bill or less.
    The fact that he won’t do this, tells us how courageous Obama is.
    Is that substantive enough for you?
    ps: In case you didn’t notice, this thread is all about politics. Steve’s caption is “Chris Nelson: Daschle Had to Go.”

    Reply

  42. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And you, WigWag, you are no better than Rush Limbaugh. Millions of people stand to lose their jobs – maybe I’m one of them – and you’re busy running the 2012 Democratic primary campaign. You never advance a single original or constructive idea that hasn’t been lapped up and regurgitated from some crabby web pundit”
    Careful Dan, you might just get called out for abrasive and uncivil discourse, or even….GASP!!!….”self-important hostility”!!!.
    Besides, what makes you think Wig-Wag can hear you? His head is pushed in WAY past his ears.
    Snow plowers…ho hum. You haven’t lived until you’ve felt a Stihl 660 gnawing its way through the trunk of a downed Black Oak.
    And uh, about this comment section…
    Are you or Wig-Wag economists? I’m not. Thats why you don’t see me praddling on and on about the details of any bail-outs, packages, or solutions to this mess. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue. And, judging by the shape of our economy, and the bickering, finger pointing, counter proposals, spin and wrangling going on, niether do you, Wig-Wag, or these pathetic pieces of shit in Washington. Gads, all the sudden everyone is an expert on the economy, despite the fact that its the “experts” that got us to this juncture. Who knows what is going to fix it, or even if it can be fixed? One thing we CAN count on, however, is that these sacks of excrement in Washington will try to milk the crisis for their own enrichment, so any “solution” proposed by EITHER side will likely have very little trickle down benefit for lowly peons like ourselves.
    Personally, I’m kinda sick of it. I wish we’d take a break on this economy thing, and discuss global warming for awhile. Its alot more fun watching everyone pretending to be climatologists than it is watching them pretend to be economists. If we are going to discuss stuff we know nothing about, can’t we at least be a bit eclectic about it?

    Reply

  43. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, there is nothing in your post that addresses any *specific* inadequacies you see with the stimulus package.
    The criticisms I read elsewhere are mainly disagreements over the balance between tax cuts and spending. What are your views about the appropriate balance, and about which specific measures in the bill should be replaced with alternative measures. What are those alternatives? Why do you support them? What measures do you think are most effective in creating jobs?
    MarkL also calls the stimulus package “inadequate”, without providing any evidence that it will be inadequate to its task. But maybe he’s right. So, OK, what’s the alternative plan?
    Every group in America sees in this crisis and this bill the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to demand every government spending or tax cut measure they have ever wanted. So obviously there is going to be a lot of railing about the details, from many quarters. But some of the criticisms aren’t constructive; they are just efforts to feed politically on carnage and score political points in trying times.
    I have also climbed all over Obama for several of his foreign policy appointments and some of his early foreign policy steps. In the process I wrote here and elsewhere about Afghanistan; I wrote about the Gaza war; I wrote about Russia policy; I wrote about Iran policy; I wrote about Somalia. I even wrote up and posted a “peace plan”, for whatever that’s worth:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/01/thoughts_on_reo/#postcomment
    Where are your plans? Where are your policy proposals? I do see one substantive post on Hamas. But beyond that, I don’t see you contributing much here other than pure politics.

    Reply

  44. Linda says:

    Somehow in two weeks we do have some “real Democratic agenda” like Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and passage of SCHIP.
    And we will have an econoomic stimulus plan, and nobody could have passed a bigger one without larger Democratic majorities in Congress. Also we have a proposal to limit excessive executive compensation for those that take bailout/recovery funding.
    And we’ve had the highest revolving door ethical standards for future set by this administration that indeed causes problems right now for Obama but sets a new standard for the future.
    The stimulus plan is far from perfect, and it probably isn’t large enough–nor was TARP nor will be son of TARP. Nobody, not even Paul Krugman or any other Nobel Laureate in economics, knows how much it will take to get us out of this meltdown.
    I think they all get it that it’s a complex mess decades in the making, and this is 1933–and they are smart enough not to make FDR’s mistake of trying to balance the budget as he did in 1936.
    We haven’t yet had a perfect President, and they all make mistakes. Some deny them or blame others. Obama has always said he would make mistakes, but he takes responsibility for them, learns from them, and moves on.
    That’s human behavior, and we elect human beings to be President. We don’t have to be divine enough to forgive them their mistakes but “unforgivable”—that’s a bit premature and hyperbolic.
    If Obama fails, so does Hillary, and the whole country loses.
    Hillary’s political future rests on Obama’s success. If he fails, the only way she has a political future would be for her to resign during this term because of major disagreements with Obama–highly unlikely. And by 2016 she’ll be about as old as McCain was in 2008.
    I can understand being concerned and skeptical and debating what may or may not work, but I really do not understand the glee at contemplating banana peels on the path ahead.
    Both parties in Congress aren’t acting very maturely, and that’s diaappointing to see all the political grandstanding. Millions more of our fellow citizens are going to lose their jobs and homes this year. That’s reason enough to want any President to succeed.

    Reply

  45. rich says:

    What, this isn’t a bold enough ya? It’s unquestionably a change of pace. Prznt. Obama, I think, has to display a bit of caution at this stage.
    Cue bully pulpit . ..
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_02/016756.php
    “As part of a more aggressive public-relations push, President Obama has a 767-word op-ed in the Washington Post this morning, offering a big-picture defense of the economic stimulus package.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/04/AR2009020403174.html
    “In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
    “I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.
    “Every day, our economy gets sicker — and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.”
    Drop the pretense that Prznt. Obama doesn’t lay it out there when the time is right. He just covers his bases before getting to that point, which’ll earn him much credit, and doesn’t gratuitously slam opponents in the process.

    Reply

  46. WigWag says:

    “… the nitwit Republicans are getting a political free ride and picking up polling points by advancing their brain dead Hooverism from behind the cover offered by Krugman and other useful idiots.”
    The person responsible for taking on the Republicans is not Paul Krugman, its Barack Obama. He’s the one giving them the free ride. He’s the one who invited Mitch McConnell and John McCain to the White House to watch the Super Bowl. He’s the one who made it his highest priority to have dinner with William Kristol, Charles Krauthhamer and assorted other right wing pundits; He’s the one who thought it was a good idea to kiss up to that bigot Rick Warren. And he’s the one acquiecing to Republican demands on the stimulus bill.
    You can blame me, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Krugman or anyone you want to. But whether we’re insignificant peons who comment at the Washington Note; Nobel Prize winners who write a column for the New York Times or a talk show hosts on the radio national-wide; we’re not the people calling the shots, Obama is. And so far, his performance is weak.
    Where’s the leadership? Where’s the boldness? Bush acted like he had a mandate after he won the presidency by losing the popular vote. Voters handed Obama a real mandate backed up by the most Democratic Congress in decades and all he can do is beg the Republicans (who he hardly even needs) to go along?
    Obama comes into office in the strongest political position of any President in recent history yet the best he can do is act like he’s running a shaky coalition government in a parliamentary system. It’s pathetic.
    Dan Kervick accuses me of a preference to see “Obama’s domestic agenda collapse, and put the country in the economic toilet, if it means Queen Hillary can ride in to grab the scepter in 2012. Stop being part of the problem.”
    That’s incorrect, I voted for Obama (against my better judgment) because I would rather see a real Democratic agenda succeed. And I would rather see Obama take advantage of a once in a generation opportunity to remake the economy of the United States. So far Obama isn’t doing it. It hardly even looks like he’s trying.
    When Obama supporters blame the press, the blogosphere and fellow Democrats for the failures of the candidate they supported they sound precisely like Bush supporters who found a way to blame his failures on everyone but him.
    I understand Obama needs more time to prove himself. He’s smart enough to learn from his mistakes. But the opportunity presented by the consensus for the need for massive stimulus is unique and it won’t come again.
    If Obama blows this, it will be unforgivable.

    Reply

  47. MarkL says:

    Dan Kervick,
    You don’t seem to understand who is in charge, and who bears responsibility for failure to pass an adequate stimulus bill.
    Your guy won. Stop blaming other people for his inadequacies. Paul Krugman is certainly NOT
    the problem.
    There are some signs that Obama is seeing the futility of his bipartisan unity shtick. Good for him, if he does: the delusion that one can work with Republicans on economic issues has caused more problems than Paul Krugman.

    Reply

  48. me says:

    Little Robin Redbreast
    Sat upon a rail,
    Niddle noddle went his head,
    Wiggle waggle went his tail.
    It really is hard to tell if DK or WW is more correct!!
    Congrats on a savvy comment section, Steve.

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    What I don’t like about Krugman is that he would rather join the stupid and typical liberal circular firing squad, and argue about whether to go with this or that form of what is going to be a stupendously massive Keynesian stimulus package either way, piled high with long-sought progressive goodies, while the nitwit Republicans are getting a political free ride and picking up polling points by advancing their brain dead Hooverism from behind the cover offered by Krugman and other useful idiots. Krugman is just another member of the sour grapes gang, tonguing his lick sores in public. He should get his ass in gear and start directing his hostile fire at the enemy where it is needed.
    And you, WigWag, you are no better than Rush Limbaugh. Millions of people stand to lose their jobs – maybe I’m one of them – and you’re busy running the 2012 Democratic primary campaign. You never advance a single original or constructive idea that hasn’t been lapped up and regurgitated from some crabby web pundit. You would rather see Obama’s domestic agenda collapse, and put the country in the economic toilet, if it means Queen Hillary can ride in to grab the scepter in 2012. Stop being part of the problem.

    Reply

  50. ... says:

    wiggle waggle regarding nobel prize winners- LTCM was founded in 1994 by John Meriwether, the former vice-chairman and head of bond trading at Salomon Brothers. Board of directors members included Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton, who shared the 1997 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.[2] Initially enormously successful with annualized returns of over 40% (after fees) in its first years, in 1998 it lost $4.6 billion in less than four months following the Russian financial crisis and became a prominent example of the risk potential in the hedge fund industry. The fund folded in early 2000.

    Reply

  51. Mr.Murder says:

    Tom Daschle. The left’s Harriet Myers? Nothing more than an enabler of this clusterflop.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    “My rationale is that Krugman used to be an economist, and now he’s an op-ed hack.”
    Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner in economics, a Professor of Economics at Princeton and the author of hundreds of scholarly papers and books on economics and political economy. His scholarly articles are aimed at an academic audience and his opinion pieces in the New York Times are aimed at a general audience.
    Both his column and his blog deal primarily with economic issues although he occasionally ventures into political discussions.
    What Dan Kervick doesn’t like about Krugman is that he tells the truth about Obama. Dan Kervick and other Obama supporters don’t like hearing that the emperor has no clothes and they get irritated when Krugman points it out.
    But Krugman is right. The Emperor has no clothes or if he does, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing (or a secret Republican in Democrat’s clothing).
    Obama is about to acquiesce to a stunningly disappointing stimulus bill. There are only two possible reasons for him to do this: (1) he thinks keeping Republicans happy is more important than fixing the economy or (2) Obama is too much of a coward to stand up to the Republicans.
    Either way, Dan Kervick would rather shoot the messenger than face up to the reality of how feckless Barack Obama really is.

    Reply

  53. Dan Kervick says:

    MarkL,
    My rationale is that Krugman used to be an economist, and now he’s an op-ed hack. If he goes back to taking more time than the time between the morning paper and dinner to think about what he says, then he will deserve more attention.

    Reply

  54. MarkL says:

    Dan kervick,
    your comment on Krugman are sad.
    He was by far the most prescient major columnist with regards to Bush, and not just about finance.
    What you say about him now echose precisely what Bush defenders said in 2001.
    You don’t even give a rationale for not believing Krugman.

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its interesting that a foreign policy wonk like Steve has nothing to say about Daschle’s past history as it applies to foreign policy positions. The whole discourse here seems to center around Daschle’s tax evasion and lobbyist history. It almost as though we’re supposed to turn over one of Daschle’s rocks, but not the other one. There is far more slime dripping off of Daschle than just the tax and lobby gunk.
    Never mind his position on the anti-ballistic missile treaty, that ran polar to the Democratic position. Daschle was doing a lap dance for George Bush on the issue, as he did on Iraq, FISA, the Patriot Act, etc.

    Reply

  56. WigWag says:

    “Paul Krugman has been bitching at Obama since last year. Krugman has lost a lot of credibility with his excursions in punditry, and has become the only economist in existence for the Hillary dead-enders…”
    Actually that’s not true. Plenty of economists are lambasting Obama for failing to develop a “shock and awe” stimulus bill. By placating the Republicans instead of insisting on a stimulus bill that is sufficiently large and based on spending instead of ineffective tax cuts, Obama runs the risk of inviting a disasterous deflationary cycle.
    It’s not just Krugman saying this. Check out what Brad DeLong, Joe Stiglitz and even Obama supporting Robert Reich have to say.

    Reply

  57. Dan Kervick says:

    Yeah, yeah. Paul Krugman has been bitching at Obama since last year. Krugman has lost a lot of credibility with his excursions in punditry, and has become the only economist in existence for the Hillary dead-enders. Maybe he’s right; maybe he’s wrong. But nobody can tell any more. He’s cried wolf too many times.

    Reply

  58. Dan Kervick says:

    “Fear not, Dan. It’s 70 degress and sunny in South Florida so I’m all cheered up.”
    70 degrees is for sissies, WigWag. I just bought a brand new snow thrower this weekend to replace Old Green, which had to be put down, and I am *loving* it. A bigger bucket, more gears and more distance on the throw are making me feel like a new man. And it was 15 degrees, sunny and clear when I drove into work this morning, and 10 deep breaths of the the oxygen-rich air perked me right up.
    I’ll bet Ben Affleck and Mo Dowd don’t have the slightest clue about the joys of outdoor power equipment.

    Reply

  59. WigWag says:

    This is what Dan Kervick says about the stimulus bill:
    “There are positive developments all over the place in many areas…including the stimulus package which many will find reasons to nitpick, but which is loaded up with mountains of progressive spending and is probably going to be passed lickety-split by an extremely popular administration.”
    This is what Paul Krugman says about the stimulus bill:
    “You know, it was widely expected that Obama would have a stimulus plan ready to pass Congress even before his inauguration. That didn’t happen. We were told that this was because the economic team was working flat out on the financial rescue.
    In fact, when it comes to bank rescue it’s hard to see much evidence that anything was accomplished during all that time; the team is still — still! — running ideas up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. And the ideas look remarkably bad.
    Meanwhile, when it came to stimulus legislation, when Obama finally introduced his economic plan he immediately began negotiating with himself, preemptively offering concessions to the GOP, which voted against the plan anyway. (And Obama appears, in the name of bipartisanship, to have thrown away a Senate vote he may well need.)
    As a wise man recently said, failure to act effectively risks turning this slump into a catastrophe. Yet there’s a sense, watching the process so far, of low energy. What’s going on?”
    This is what Nate Silver at 538 says about the stimulus bill:
    “If the Washington Post is correct that the stimulus bill is going to be significantly pared down in the Senate — possibly deducting about $200 billion from its total and making the ratio of spending programs to tax cuts closer to 1:1 — this will be viewed as a moral victory for the Republicans. I think that’s a fair assessment.”
    If President Obama can’t get a good stimulus bill through an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress in a time of economic catastrophe, what chance does he have of passing a good health care bill?
    Are we witnessing the beginning of a failed presidency?

    Reply

  60. Linda says:

    I couldn’t begin to answer all the erroneous information above and do have expertise in this area. Anybody who wants to know what Hillary Clinton and Obama both proposed (with only minor differences) could read Daschle’s book.
    The plan always has been to quickly pass this year and that probably still will happen a very broad bill with few details because they now have business, drug, and insurance companies (most importantly) on board.
    Then all the details will be worked out in regs process where citizens will have in theory and practice the ability to comment, but regs process always is dominated by interest groups—and you get some very strange interest groups since UnitedHealth has a deal with AARP (a non-profit) that only endorses and adverises its Medicare plans.
    Just Google UnitedHealth and settlements, and you will see that they always are in trouble with the government about something.
    All health care should be non-profit, but Tenet, for example, over the last 15 years bought many university hospitals around the country. For-profits have much higher administrative costs that do not go to care but to large salaries and bonuses and to dividends for shareholders.
    Kaiser Permanente is not perfect but usually scores highest in quality of care against for-profit HMOs. And for several years now, Kaiser has been the only HMO in the country that has a complete system of electronic medical records. They started developing prototypes 20 years ago.
    And they did it without government funding.
    Part of the bailout will be help to all others to implement electronic medical records systems–a very big undertaking–just think of someone having to input all your own past medical records and history. It will take years to do that–good investment but no savings or help in reducing medical errors until that is in place.
    http://www.taf.org/top20.htm False Claims Act of fraud against the government is explained on this website for those who aren’t familiar with it–takes years for a case to get through litigation. But just look at the 20 largest claims ever paid under that act.
    We probably will get health care reform of some kind this year or next, and it may be the best we can do politically. Both Clinton and Obama agreed on that.
    Progressive left will not get single payer universal care which is the best option. The hope is that the public option for which Pete Stark and most progressives will fight will end up over time cheaper and better and wipe out the for-profits.

    Reply

  61. ... says:

    hey, lets all get sidetracked in some stupid melodrama that’s past tense and doesn’t amount to a hill of beans… not! there are many positive developments that never would have happened if the little hitler bush, or any of his minions had have been elected, including little hillary herself..

    Reply

  62. WigWag says:

    “Cheer up WigWag. You can go over here to the Hillary fan club page and read about Hillary’s magical interventions in the field of Anglo-US and German-US relations.”
    Fear not, Dan. It’s 70 degress and sunny in South Florida so I’m all cheered up. I have checked out the new “Madam Secretary” site and it is somewhat amusing; it’s just not as amusing as watching all the faux progressive Obama supporters at the Washington Note reap what they have sown.

    Reply

  63. Dan Kervick says:

    Thanks … There are positive developments all over the place in many areas – Lilly Ledbetter law, repeal of the global gag rule and funding freeze for abortion, Gitmo order, executive salary caps, greenlighting state auto emission standards, pro-labor executive orders – and including the stimulus package which many will find reasons to nitpick, but which is loaded up with mountains of progressive spending and is probably going to be passed lickety-split by an extremely popular administration.
    National security issues and disappointing continuity with the Bush administration remain a concern, although so far Obama has managed to stand behind his Iraq pledges despite significant pushback from military brass.

    Reply

  64. Dan Kervick says:

    Cheer up WigWag. You can go over here to the Hillary fan club page and read about Hillary’s magical interventions in the field of Anglo-US and German-US relations. Be sure to read the comments, which explain how Hillary’s seductive animal magnetism is reducing the globe’s male leaders to thralldom.
    http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/02/04/british_and_german_press_react_to_clintons_meetings_with_foreign_ministers#comments

    Reply

  65. ... says:

    dan kervick – thanks for your comments which i seem to always find informative and rewarding to read.
    speaking of the obama admin and what many ought to be very happy about who voted for him, a post is up at emptywheel highlighting something positive- Salazar’s Successes…
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/02/04/salazars-successes/

    Reply

  66. WigWag says:

    “As was said during the Democratic nominating fight, Civil Rights legislation needed both Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson, pressure from the outside and orchestration from the inside.”
    DavidT, you’re absolutely right. To accomplish meaningful health care reform we need aroused citizen advocates (organized labor can play a valuable role) and suave political insiders who know how to manipulate the political process in a proactive way.
    But your quote from the nominating campaign is an interesting one. The person who said that the fight for civil rights legislation needed both a Martin Luther King and a Lyndon Johnson was Hillary Clinton. She was obviously correct. But Obama supporters were so delusional that they claimed her statement proved that she (and her husband) were racists. They claimed that by mentioning Lyndon Johnson’s name in the same sentence as Martin Luther King’s name that Senator Clinton was “race-baiting.” And the Obama campaign did everything they could to fan the flames of his supporters stupidity.
    The thing about Obama supporters is that now that their candidate has been elected, they’re no less delusional than they were in the spring and summer of 2008.
    Obama’s appointees are the same as Bill Clinton’s (and the same as Hillary would have appointed); his promise to eschew lobbyists is a demonstrable deception and his policies on both domestic and foreign policy are, if anything, to the right of most main-stream Democrats. But blinded by the light as they are, Obama supporters just can’t accept that they supported a fraud.
    He’s ruining the stimulus bill and now he’s getting off to a terrible start on health care reform. Many commentators at the Washington Note don’t think he’s made an especially good start on foreign policy either. We could easily be looking at refrain of the incompetence of the Bush Administration but this time from a centrist instead of a neoconservative.
    Just about the only people with a right to be happy about Obama’s performance so far are conservative Republicans. Obama just loves them. He invited several over to the White House to watch the Super Bowl, he’s had dinner with their columnists, he’s ordered Democrats in Congress to bend over backwards to accept their proposed tax cuts and lets not forget that one if his new best friends is Rick Warren.
    That’s what happens when you elect a stupid President (Bush) or a President who has virtually no experience (Obama).
    It’s just not that complicated; Bush and Obama are just two sides of the same coin. And it’s looking more and more like Obama supporters aren’t any wiser than Bush supporters.

    Reply

  67. Mike in Kazoo says:

    cudos to rich and all the other washnote contributors. Great exchange and some interesting ideas. I believe rich has hit the nail on the head. A feign to the left (or right) followed by a sharp strike to the jaw may have been Obama’s strategy all along. The glancing blows from repubs were like flies buzzing. He needs a real knock out blow to seal the deal and keep his momentum going for the championship rounds to come.

    Reply

  68. Thom says:

    So Daschle is too big to fail? How depressing. And confusing. I’m
    going to disagree with you just out of despair.
    Crap.

    Reply

  69. DonS says:

    If Obama thinks he can downplay helth care reform — the next big bubble where fat cat profiteers abound — he sadly misjudges the outrage of the American people. The same sort of rage at Wall Street exists with regard to health care abuses.
    Obama has the good will of the American people at present. That will tank if he ignores their rage on health care, where he, the Congress, and the wealthy are doing just fine, thtnk you, and the rest, not so much.
    The American people have caught the reform bug, and its going to be focused — MSM willing — on the fat cats. Obama can’t just talk the talk, with minor gestures — e.g., restrict execs wages — he needs to get into the meat of it, get dirty up to the elbows and beyond.

    Reply

  70. DavidT says:

    Hey Dan K,
    I agree with you that health care reform needs alot of political / public opinion / public participation muscle behind it to succeed. I think for that success to happen however, it greatly helps to have someone on the inside adept at working the levers of power as well as helping to filter the public sentiment towards results. As was said during the Democratic nominating fight, Civil Rights legislation needed both Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson, pressure from the outside and orchestration from the inside.

    Reply

  71. Dan Kervick says:

    David T,
    What rational basis was there for thinking Tom Daschle could “pull off a radical change in our health care system”? Daschle no radical anything, and is a long-term veteran of the do-nothing government in Washington. And progressive legislation has been stalled in this country since the Johnson administration, including during the time Daschle was majority leader.
    In my opinion, health care reform doesn’t need a heroic czar who is going to pull off massive change by the force of a single individual will. It needs a well-organized citizen movement and process, using a patient ground game, that builds through bottom-up education and deliberative participation, and culminates in a national consensus of such weight and power that all the czars, CEOs and VIPs in Washington can’t resist it.

    Reply

  72. rich says:

    Robert Reich explains it for the cogniscenti that either haven’t quite grasped what just happened or disbelieve the above comments.
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/robert_reich/2009/02/tom-daschle-and-the-populist-r.php
    And again, Daschle may’ve done a good job… up to a point.
    Reich:
    “Daschle … would very likely have done a superb job getting a new health-insurance system enacted, and probably could have mustered enough votes to be confirmed. So what happened?
    “What’s going on here? Maybe official Washington, much like most of Wall Street, is still not quite getting it.
    “Typical Americans are hurting very badly right now. They resent people who appear to be living high off a system dominated by insiders with the right connections. They’ve become increasingly suspicious of the conflicts of interest, cozy relationships, and payoffs that seem to pervade not only official Washington but our biggest banks and corporations. In short, many Americans who have worked hard, saved as much as they can, bought a home, obeyed the law, and paid every cent of taxes that were due are beginning to feel like chumps. Their jobs are disappearing, their savings are disappearing, their homes are worth far less than they thought they were, their tax bills are as high as ever if not higher.”
    “Meanwhile, people at the top seem to be living far different lives in a different universe.”
    Sure explains why Steve takes heat for partying with reporters who routinely lie about the economic stimulus bill, by saying a) it doesn’t stimulate; b) tax cuts stimulate more (which failed us execrably under Bush and underperform govt spending); and c) continue to falsely assert the CBO said 75% of the bill wouldn’t hit in 18 months (Broder, Charles Gibson).
    Now that’s not Steve’s fault and half of what gets done anywhere relies on personal relationsips. Fine. But there is a role for public rebuke and social shame.
    David Brooks provides the latest example, with even more tortured logic and blatant hypocrisy: Brooks has pushed deregulation like a well-trained propagandist and party ideologue. All his puffery and sophistry has been proven false, wrongheaded, and tremendously destructive.
    But rather than admit we need different methods, Brooks argued on PBS that John Thain shouldn’t have his salary capped—he needs that $35,000 toilet—but instead we should apply social SHAME to rein in Thain & his cohorts, and curb their excesses.
    Except we here at the Washington Note know no one will be applying any shame to their best buds. Hell–shame Abrahmoff, you gotta shame Daschle. Shame Miller; shame Russert. Shame Clinton, –never mind, don’t gotta shame Bush.
    Don’t gotta shame anybody at all!
    Even David Brooks spun around in an instant and argued long and plead hard that shaming the excesses of clearly incompetent CEOs earning billion-dollar bonuses while the American economy burns is just silly! Don’t need to care! It’s just the self-indulgence of morally flawed liberals who resent your good taste because they don’t make as much and aren’t as pretty. I kid you not.
    Make no mistake, there’s nothing moral about David Brooks. He preaches and scolds and misuses hard data, but he’s never been in a position to those things.
    Brooks—widely known as our Sophist-in-Chief—is like a landmark middle-class restaurant: he’s the Big Boy of Hypocrites.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/opinion/03brooks.html?_r=1&em

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  73. questions says:

    I sort of wonder if what we really need on health care is a little less czar-style management and politicking and a little more evolution that comes more naturally and with a lot less lobbying. What if there were 10 or so regional non-profit health insurers who started with government patient lists and some govt capital and started with reasonable and customary coverage and slowly added patients as businesses and individuals could manage.
    The non-profit status, a requirement that there be no lobbying and limited advertising to the public, a range of policy types so that people could have better and pricier coverage (never know when you might want that nose job), and more basic coverage (never know when you might get cancer).
    Let the demands on the non-profits evolve a little at a time. Be mildly conservative on newer drug therapies that haven’t been shown to be safe and effective (hormone replacement therapy) and be generous for drugs that seem to work. Set up more expensive coverage that deals with end of life “heroics” and cheaper coverage that deals with hospice. Force people to make these decisions when they sign up and allow changes only if certain premiums are paid. End of life issues and drugs seem to be the major pressure points. If wealthy people want to buy the last 6 or 8 months of torture on earth because they are panicked about death and able to buy time, literally, let them. And if some of us decide that it’s not worth those last 6 months of needles, chest compressions, surgery, drugs, vomiting, starvation… because we don’t earn enough or choose to spend the money differently, well maybe that’s ok.
    And again, make it all non-profit with limited executive pay and benefits and let it evolve. Don’t allow the insurers to convert to profit-seeking status. Limit the gov’t involvement and we limit the need for Daschle-2. Limit the corporateness of it and we maybe avoid the Nataline Sarkysian disasters as well. Cut back on profit seeking and maybe we have more people covered.
    And don’t let the drug companies push back.

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  74. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for sharing this alternate perspective. I appreciate your openness to other perspectives.
    I share your fear on health care reform. I could not have been more delighted when Daschle was designated as this administration’s health care czar and given posts both at HHS and within the White House. I felt if anyone could pull off a radical change in our health care system, he could. If I had had a vote I would have voted for him to fight it out. The hard part, however, is at what point do you admit that there are other factors that outweigh these virtues.
    I don’t know how his past would have looked to people who feel the best off in our society don’t have to follow the rules. One of the things we so desperately need in this country is a much greater confidence in our public institutions — particularly our government. I think Obama’s style is starting to help but there’s a long long ways to go before most Americans don’t feel that the government is “part of the problem” (a sentiment I don’t share). Besides, maybe this episode will remind future prospective office-holders that if they really care about their community they need to be extra careful with their personal business and how that personal business appears to others before prescribing solutions for the rest of the country.
    Thanks for providing a place for many of us to express our views, sometimes vent, and engage you and some of your thoughts.

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  75. Tahoe Editor says:

    But look at all the lobbyists we HAVEN’T hired (yet)!
    From Salon:
    The White House wants everyone to focus on the thousands of lobbyists who aren’t getting jobs in the administration, or the rules prohibiting staffers from lobbying their former colleagues once they leave government; instead, it’s a handful of glaring counterexamples getting all the attention.
    But that may just be how it goes for reform candidates who actually wind up winning. “You ran as a reformer — that’s what you expected to be judged on,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a good-government group that has gone after more Republicans than Democrats over the years but is howling about some of Obama’s appointments. “They said judge us on these standards; they said elect us because our standards are higher. I don’t know what it takes for politicians to understand they can’t say one thing and turn around and do another — and then how are they surprised when people are upset?”
    Obama’s hopes Daschled
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/02/04/daschle/

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  76. Dan Kervick says:

    Why doesn’t Obama name his own confident and close advisor Valerie Jarrett to handle the health care issue? Jarret probably understands as well as anyone the kind of political process Obama wants to put in place, and the difference between the kind of open, bottom-up process Obama described in the campaign, and the old-style, Clintonian, room-of-insiders approach we were probably going to get with Daschle.
    Health care reform doesn’t need a czar. It doesn’t need a powerful dictator to get all the old stakeholders together and bang out some political compromise. It needs a sort of project manager, someone who will put a certain kind of political process in place, oversee it, keep it on track, and delegate details to energetic citizen activists who will take broad public ownership of the process.
    Health care reform was supposed to be one of the showpieces of Obama’s bottom-up approach, building up from local public meetings and discussions, employing organizing outreach, and generating a broad-based and informed public consensus that would finally land in Washington with the citizen army for political pressure already in place.

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  77. prem says:

    With today’s challenges facing medical practices including government mandates, lower reimbursement and cost risk management, the physicians and administrator at Dover Orthopaedics needed a better alternative for managing patient charts. So in 2001, administrator Marilyn Orr set out to find an electronic medical record system (EMR) for her four-physician practice. Another administrator, who had been through the same experience, had given Marilyn some advice. The administrator advised her to “respect the culture of your group and understand what they are willing and able to do.” With this advice and the list of practice objectives, Marilyn began her search.
    —————–
    prem
    ————–
    Australian Dating-Australian Dating

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  78. JohnH says:

    Steve laments, “the likely death of any near term comprehensive health care reform.” Those of us who can remember what Congress has been doing for the last 10-15 years will remember what “reform” means in Washington today–ladle out the pork to fat corporate clients, Medicare Part D on steroids. The Daschle nomination fit right into that mold.
    If the reform Steve laments means more poor quality, overpriced healthcare coupled with massive welfare for Big Pharma and their fellow robber barons, I’m more than happy to see it go.
    As I mentioned yesterday, the market capitalization of the four big health insurance providers is less than $100 Billion. If you want real healthcare reform, declare a national healthcare emergency–certainly more justifiable than the invasion of Iraq–and buy them out and merge them. Then you would have immediate, comprehensive reform–a single payer system.
    Robert Reich has the right analysis on this:
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/robert_reich/2009/02/tom-daschle-and-the-populist-r.php
    If Obama finally “gets it,” he’ll still face a Congress almost exclusively filled with corporate shills, who will certainly stymie anything that hints at having the common good replace corporate greed.

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  79. DonS says:

    Zathras, why not a total break from the past, including past ‘failure’. Hillary has such baggage on health care.
    IMO, there is no shortage of talent, just shortage of will and direction.
    To me, it smacks of DESPERATION’ to tap another already confirmed cabinet member and shifting them to HHS as you suggest. I heard on Diane Rhem just a few minutes ago someone suggest moving Leon Panetta from CIA to HHS because he’s a good manager.
    You’ve already got these folks approved and situated, presumably where you (Obama) thought they belonged, albeit one could argue every choice. It sends a terrible message to think about playing musical chairs so soon. No, the talent is out there. This is an opportunity to advance, make a big point, move on . . .

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  80. DonS says:

    I agree Dan, as much with the sentiment as the specifics you suggest, although, “open, public process, where the stakeholders in the old, rotten system are forced to testify publicly, and submit themselves to hard interrogation . . .” makes a bunch of sense.
    As to Daschle removing himself and this being a body blow to progress, on the contrary, I hope Obama uses the opportunity to make a huge push forward. I have learned, in multiple jobs (the last of which I just retired from after 20 years), that no one is irreplaceable, no matter what they say in front of you. Real progress and performance are a function of expectations and and effort, not only special talents. And, by the way, talent is available; it needs to be shepherded.
    Obama may indeed be forced to become more progressive and more assertive than he ever dreamed. Good.

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  81. Zathras says:

    I was hoping someone else would suggest this so I wouldn’t have to, but…
    Shouldn’t President Obama consider turning the HHS portfolio over to Hillary Clinton? I have no beef with Howard Dean or other potential replacements for Daschle, but if the No. 1 job of the HHS Secretary is to drive health care reform, Clinton makes a certain amount of sense.
    Yes, she screwed it up last time. No argument about that (except from Clinton fans for whom, as for the Clintons themselves, nothing that goes wrong is ever their fault). However, that was, No. 1, fifteen years ago; No. 2, something she tried to do from a position with no statutory authority; and No. 3, someting that took place when the health care crisis was less urgent than it is now. I am not a Hillary Clinton admirer, but gladly concede that she knows this subject awfully well — and she has a constituency of her own that can be mobilized to support what an Obama administration wants to do on health care.
    Would I be advancing this idea if I thought Clinton was a good choice for Secretary of State? Of course not. I didn’t, and don’t, think that appointment made any sense at all for Obama. Moving Clinton to HHS would enable Obama to replace a Secretary of State who thinks she knows foreign policy with someone who actually does — Richard Holbrooke, for example — while gaining an HHS Secretary who really does know health care. Obama could make no appointment to HHS that would send a clearer message that health care reform is not a dead letter because Tom Daschle didn’t pay his taxes. So what about it?

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  82. rich says:

    Everything Chris Nelson wrote was clear to the entire country on Sunday afternoon. Daschle’s presumption allowed Jim DeMint, of all people, to say on ABC’s This Week that:
    “Of course Tom Daschle doesnt’ mind raising your taxes, because Liberals never have to pay them.”
    Never mind DeMint’s hypocrisy. Never mind that DeMint openly lied about President Obama’s economic stimulus bill not having a stimulative effect. Never mind that George Steph tried to shut down talk about Republican tax and deficit spending for an optional war and bank bailout, each to the tune of hundreds of billions, each unaccountable. Never mind there’s no pushback from Democrats.
    Never mind Tom Daschle’s tax oversight. This isn’t about unpaid taxes.
    Limousine liberals can’t run campaign ads touting themselves as Ralph-Naderesque tightwads just because they drive a beater car. Or pretend to. And then presume they won’t be nailed for accepting free car-&-chauffeur services from a business pal and then evading taxes on it. Not in the wake of Republican corruption, Jack Abromoff-style.
    At minimum it opens Tom Daschle to charges he’s a limousine liberal and a hypocrite.
    But you just do not ‘earn’ $5.8 million in 2 years by serving the public interest, nor without delivering some very big prizes to the special interests of health-care corporations, nor without compromisign yourself.
    I may still believe Tom Daschle is a man of integrity. But he pulled his punches too often as majority leader, and Matt Taibbi recounts rather glaring instances in which Daschle and delivered special favors with disastrous results, undermined the public interest in the process.
    I admire President Obama’s tactic of bringing on Biden, Clinton, Richardson and Daschle, all of whom have strong ties on Capitol Hill, understand how the process works and can push the Prznt’s agenda effectively. Assuming they want to.
    ** But this is also a revealing insight into Steve’s perspective of the ‘chess game’–as Obama added Daschle’s political ‘franchise’ to his own expanding power bloc, the question of who was colonizing whom was always in question. Daschle backed Obama early on; Obama gained momentum throughout and became Prznt. By grabbing control of a major turnstile in the revolving door of Washington politics, Daschle’s appointment to HHS could yield tremendous power over competing interests — or compromise everything Obama was trying to do.
    Fact is, you don’t earn $5.8 million in 2 years without racking up serious conflicts of interest. What Daschle delivered was big, it was sweet, and it cost American taxpayers and health care recipients a bundle. That’s why this isn’t about unpaid taxes. It’s only marginally about stupidity, blatancy, and presumption.
    A closer look at Daschle’s activities was imminent, and Obama would’ve been tarred by what floated to the surface, no matter how he planned to use Daschle. Republicans would easily torpedo Obama’s best intentions, either in confirmation hearings or in the midst of any health care reform negotiations.
    It strikes me that it’s possible some of this was intentional on Obama’s part. He owes Daschle, so he puts him up for Sec. @ HHS, knowing he can’t past minimal scrutiny. He’s then attempted to reward Daschle for political support, but could not control the nomination’s ultimate fate. Regrettably. President Obama is far better off that events played out this way. He avoided taking a hit from worse revelations; removed a ticking clusterfvck from the road to health care reform; the Daschle machine still needs him; and Daschle’s special interests still need Obama to maintain their corporate welfare pipeline. The downside is Obama still owes Daschle. But President Obama is strengthened across the board. He’s consolidated power, removed a potentially unreliable player in someone beholden to other interests, and now has a freer hand.
    I do not claim Tom Daschle didn’t have good intentions, maybe he would’ve changed things. But he had that chance as majority leader; nothing happened. But odds are he was to deliver minimized damage to corporate health care interests, rather than substantive reform. Anybody expecting even half-measures isn’t paying attention, when what’s needed is fundamental reform.
    Folks are being bled dry, and no one’s paying attention. If Barack Obama wants to make a difference, he should just hire Howard Dean and get it over with. Then steamroll anyone that gets in the way. Anything less is just a joke. Democrats are already quietly caving on the most dishonest meme — except Barney Frank, who nailed GSteph on This Week. Hope you didn’t pay too much, Steve. I really like Chris Nelson’s stuff, but all this was obvious to anyone who reads the newspapers. No offense; wish I could afford to subscribe.

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  83. Che$$ says:

    Flawed analysis. Queen removed. Knight ready to be summoned.
    The elimination of Daschle’s long record of wrong, Wrong, WRONG! strategic advice on a broad range of issues of interest to untainted Democrats is a great help to the cause of health care reform. Has George Soros paid his taxes? Stiglitz? Roubini? Where are they in the cabinet queue?

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  84. Dan Kervick says:

    You know, the more I think about it today, the happier I am this Daschle withdrawal happened. I am positively charged up over it. The whole episode is providing a strong populist shock to the system that is giving Obama a chance to re-energize his ethics message and anti-lobbyist message, and recommit himself to the governing principles on which he ran. Obama’s been reasonably consistent on those principles, but there have been some moments of weakness. He should now withdraw William Lynn as his candidate for deputy defense seretary. Obama’s No Lobbyists rule doesn’t mean anything if it is jettisoned whenever it suits him. And if there was ever a place where the new rule needs to be enforced, it’s the damn Pentagon.
    I sense that the public has gotten over the indulgent post-inauguration happy times, has taken stock of the global economic meltdown and the corrupt culture of global fat-catism such as we are still seeing on display in Davos, Wall Street and Washington, and is about to make a sharp lurch to the left. Obama is now introducing legislation to cap executive salaries for companies receiving bailout money. Great! That’s the nose under the tent, and it shows how much times have changed. I can tell you that I have been arguing for years that the country legislate a 20 to 1 executive salary rule, or even a 50 to 1 rule. And even on the left-wing blogs as recently as a couple of years ago the proposal has been met as though it were a case of unhinged communist raving. No longer.
    The game is changing. No more warmed-over Clintonian politics-as-usual. No more thinking we have to go to the mat for “our guys”, no matter how many gifts they take, lies they tell or interns they screw – and no matter how compromised and mediocre they are.
    The party is over Steve.

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  85. DonS says:

    Max Baucus is wringing his hands about the probablity of postponing health care reforem
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/02/03/baucus-reform-delay/
    Wrong! The issue is too big and too much a part of the economic malaise picture to ignore it for one second.
    IMHO, the health care ‘business’ is and has been a growing ‘bubble’. The industry is milking the government (us) for all the outrageous costs and profit until the axe falls. Someone needs to get ahold of this obscene waste. And Congress is of course conflicted because they are big takers. Implicitly, we need to demand more Congressional action and transparency, notkicking the can down the road again.

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  86. Dan Kervick says:

    My goodness, what a a bunch of fuss and hysteria over Tom Daschle. Since when does the fate of the nation’s health care system hang on the great Franklin Delano Daschle? What exactly were Daschle’s magnificent, titanic accomplishments as majority leader? He still has the tread marks on his back from the Iraq debate. Is there anything in his record that indicates he would be able to drive some health care plan to passage that isn’t just a ineffective stew of Washington insider mediocrity?
    This appointment was mainly a political reward for campaign support. His duty discharged, Obama is now free to pick someone better, more dynamic and less weak. And give me a break about the great Republican victory. The Republicans barely had to do anything here. It was Daschle himself who put a stake in his nomination, with a final nudge the New York Times.
    Real health care reform isn’t going to happen because some DC pol bangs heads together in a smoke filled room. We tried that in the 90’s. It didn’t work. The way to get health care reform is to hold an open, public process, where the stakeholders in the old, rotten system are forced to testify publicly, and submit themselves to hard interrogation from panels of citizens and experts who actually know what they are talking about, instead of answering only the usual bunch of hypocritical, wink-wink softball crap from the corrupt Congress. These players will then be forced to make significant public commitments just to keep themselves from looking like total assholes.
    Things really are changing here. When are these guys in Washington going to get a clue, stop cutting legal corners and stop living off gifts and favors like the political bosses in some damn banana republic?
    Steve, you are breathing too much of the self-important gas that is passed by all the career buttheads in the various political “franchises” you hang with. I guess some of Daschle’s angry DC minions aren’t going to get the jobs they were hoping for. But the republic will get along just fine. Obama will pick the new guy or gal, and within a week no one will remember Daschle was even nominated.

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  87. WigWag says:

    I don’t know how critical Tom Daschle was or wasn’t to health care reform. I tend to agree with Steve that given Daschle’s sophistication about the legislative process he could have played an invaluable role in moving what is sure to be very complex legislation.
    While Daschle might be no saint, his tax problems are trivial compared to the problem of tens of millions of Americans having no health insurance or poor health insurance.
    The extensive discussion of Daschle’s tax problems in both old and new media (like the Washington Note) but the virtual absence of discussions about his actual plans for health care reform proves how perverse political discourse has become in this country.
    A debate about the future of health care policy is critical. A debate about Daschle’s tax problems is trivial. The fact that so much ink (or pixels)is wasted on the later while so little is spent on the former tells you everything you need to know about why we’re in the fix we’re in.
    .

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