If No Apology Due to Hillary Clinton, Then at Least Give Tom Daschle a Call. . .


tom daschle twn.jpg
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Blogs are strange beasts on occasion. By noting that I thought that Barack Obama’s “Harry and Louise II” ads were despicable and calling for him to apologize — predictably, I got a number of emails accusing me of bias towards Hillary Clinton. These folks apparently haven’t paid much attention to my commentary about Obama vs HRC on Cuba, or Hillary’s vote on the IRGC Kyl/Lieberman amendment, or more recently — my view that the race is essentially over and that Obama has most likely won the Democratic nomination and that a different kind of struggle is taking place at the moment.
But let’s set all that aside. On a policy basis, I completely agree with Hillary Clinton’s perspective on health care — and I entirely disagree that Barack Obama’s plan achieves universal coverage or can even aspire to because of the high cost of covering American citizens on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum without inclusion of the middle class Americans who can afford insurance but elect not to get it.
This is a disagreement. There are other matters I disagree with Obama and Clinton about — and other things that get my applause and support.
But the Harry and Louise ads have also turned the stomachs of many of Obama’s own policy staff. They are controversial — and he should hear from those of in civil society that they harm his profile.
For those who argue that turnabout is fair play and that the Clintons should be apologizing for things they have done before Obama does, fine. Chase that windmill. I think that the Clintons have done a number of things wrong — and that were unsavory — but guess what? They are losing this race. . .
This isn’t about the Clintons and what they have done or not done to Obama. It is the signal that Barack Obama, who I think will be the Democratic nominee, is sending about the politics of health care coverage.
I am a huge fan of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle — who has campaigned harder for Barack Obama than just about everyone except Barack’s wife Michelle.
I recently received Daschle’s excellent new book out this weekend in bookstores titled CRITICAL: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis. I think that Daschle’s thinking about health care and the gridlocked politics in the debate are essential reading.
But I found this clip in his final chapter worth emphasizing:

If the next president is dedicated to reform, he or she can use the formidable power of the White House to create a sense of urgency on this issue and forge a consensus on how to move forward. This means going on the offensive; we cannot wait for the next “Harry and Louise” ad to define the debate. We cannot assume that the public recognizes the distortions and fallacies peddled by reform opponents; we have to educate people on the emptiness of antireform rhetoric.

Tom Daschle supports Barack Obama — and I know Obama takes Daschle and his views very seriously. Something tells me that this “Harry and Louise II” ad is not real Obama but is being driven by other string-pullers in his campaign. I hope I’m not wrong about this.
In any case, I think that people need to look beyond the tit-for-tat gaming between Obama and Clinton and get their heads around the policy parameters at stake. Some who support Obama’s position think that the politics of wage garnishing is a loser. Those who support true universal coverage say that there can’t be a loophole for those without coverage to just free-ride the system until they are sick. These are the terms of debate.
But in this case, I think Tom Daschle sets the right tone — and it’s the tone that both candidates should seek to achieve.

— Steve Clemons


30 comments on “If No Apology Due to Hillary Clinton, Then at Least Give Tom Daschle a Call. . .

  1. p.lukasiak says:

    re: sleazy campaign tactics from both sides…
    yeah, both sides have done it, been called on it in each instance, and stopped doing what they were doing.
    For instance the Clinton camp sent out a mailer about Obama’s position on Social Security. While “factual” in the broadest sense, it was clearly designed to misinform voters. the Clinton camp have not used that mailer again.
    But the “Harry and Louise II” mailer, and the “Closed” NAFTA mailer, were both used before, and were heavily criticized for presenting false and/or misleading information.
    To me, the problem isn’t that campaigns occasionally “go to far” — its when they go too far KNOWING they have gone too far.


  2. Orion says:

    How about Nader’s healthcare proposal? It makes sense, is relatively easy to implement, and would take the corrupted bloat out of our healthcare system. It would be nice to see the viable candidates explain how exactly their proposals are superior to his, or even better, adopt his proposal as their own.


  3. pauline says:

    Steve wrote:
    “On a policy basis, I completely agree with Hillary Clinton’s perspective on health care”
    btw, what is HRC’s perspective on health care for illegals? Her camp has been specifically asked and all one gets is doublespeak.
    Who can answer this fundamental question? Will HRC insist that all illegals be covered? Is this presidential candidate willing to specifically tell Americans that she not only wants to “look the other way” but include the millions of border lawbreakers in madatory health insurance? And if most can’t afford it and aren’t legitimately on someone’s payroll, how does she plan to offer and collect from them?
    How about an answer, Mrs. candidate #2?


  4. pauline says:

    The most powerful Democrat in the Senate lost his last election. How do the people of his own state feel about him? hmm?
    And how about the Mrs as a conveniently available lobbyist ready to cash on post 9/11 fed spending — which her hubby was responsible for voting on and even bringing to vote. “Need a little help, dear…?”
    From Human Events back in 2002 —
    “Mrs. Daschle joined post 9/11 lobbying blitz”
    Jeffrey, Terence P
    “Former Vice President Al Gore, who used to make fundraising calls from his White House office, says it is “disgraceful” that the Republican National Committee is trying to “capitalize” on the attack of September 11 by offering contributors a commercially available photograph of President Bush aboard Air Force One that day.
    “We know it’s the Republican strategy to use the war for political gain,” added Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe, “but I would hope that even the most cynical partisan operative would have cowered at the notion of exploiting the September 11 tragedy in this way.”
    The Democrats are walking down the wrong dark alley here. If the political debate this year targets those who exploited September 11, then Mrs. Tom Daschle is going to find a big fat bull’s eye painted on her big fat bank account.
    In the wake of September 11, the Senate Majority Leader’s wife joined a lucrative lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill.
    The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 mandates that lobbying firms file separate reports for each client on whose behalf they contact the federal government. The law also requires firms to name the individual lobbyists who do the contacting.
    On October 12, one month and one day after September 11, the firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell named Tom Daschle’s wife, Linda, as a lobbyist for Intelli-Check, Inc.
    Intelli-Check makes a device called ID-Check. With a simple swipe, this device reads the information loaded onto the magnetic strips and barcodes often affixed to drivers’ licenses. Intelli-Check also markets a system called C-Link, that allows this information to be downloaded and stored on a computer. A bar in Boston, reports the New York Times, uses the system to track its clientele. “If he wanted to,” says the Times, the bar owner “could find out how many blond women named Karen over 5 feet 2 inches came in over a weekend.”
    But Intelli-Check did not hire Tom Daschle’s wife to sell their product to saloons.
    In a lobbying report filed March 2, Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell indicated that Intelli-Check paid the firm $20,000 through the end of last year. The firm listed as its activities on behalf of the company lobbying on ten diP ferent bills. These ranged from the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.” to the “Aviation and Transportation Security Act.” Every one of the bills was related in some way to the government’s response to September 11.
    On Intelli-Check’s behalf, the firm’s lobbyists contacted officials in the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the House of Representatives and the Senate. A footnote on the report says Mrs. Daschle “[v]oluntarily does not lobby U.S. Senate.”
    Intelli-Check clearly saw the federal response to September 11 as a chance to increase sales. In a company profile posted on its website, under the heading “Market Opportunities,” it states: “In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, efforts have been focused on the defense and security sectors caused by threats of terrorism. The ID-Check, unit and enhanced C-Link, database software meet the demands for increased security and access control. This market includes the U.S. military, airports, shipping ports, cruise lines, rail and bus terminals, stadiums, arenas and high profile buildings.”
    The company also believes its product could help convert drivers’ licenses into “de facto” national 11) cards.
    But even those of us who oppose national ID cards can easily see how Intelli-Check’s products could deter terrorism. It also is easy to see why they would hire a Washington lobbyist after September 11. It was far from the only firm to do so. “When September 11 came,” says a source with the House Transportation Committee, “everybody with a gadget hired any lobbyist who was standing around and we probably heard from 8,000 companies with new things and whatnots.”
    But Linda Daschle was not “any lobbyist who was standing around.”
    She was the wife of America’s senior elected Democrat. She was the First Lady of the so-called Loyal Opposition. No law can be enacted in this country unless her husband first schedules it for a vote.
    Why did she put herself up for hire by firms like IntelliCheck after September 11?
    Would it have been appropriate for First Lady Laura Bush to do the same thing? What about for the Vice President’s wife, Lynne Cheney? I put those questions directly to Mrs. Daschle by voice mail and e-mail. In an e-mailed response, her counsel Bob Bauer did not mention Laura Bush, but did note that spouses like Lynne Cheney “have been recognized to have the right to pursue independent careers.” Mrs. Daschle, he said, has “addressed any conflict of interest by adopting a policy, which exceeds the requirements of conflict-of-interest rules or requirements, of not representing clients in the United States Senate.” (See Bauer’s complete statement on page 8.)
    “As for Intellicheck,” said Bauer, “Ms. Daschle was approached by the company and pleased to assist in their desire to demonstrate their identity verification technology to the aviation industry and the federal government.”
    Was it “exploiting the September 11 tragedy”-to use McAuliffe’s words-for Mrs. Daschle to join the post-attack lobbying blitz? I put that question to McAuliffe through DNC spokesman Bill Buck. McAuliffe did not respond.
    Maybe someone should hire Mrs. Daschle to lobby him -on the question. I’d almost be willing to bet $20,000 he would return her call.”
    Copyright Human Events Publishing, Inc. May 20, 2002


  5. pt says:

    I seriously hope you are going to write about the ‘dressed’ photo. How does that stack up against Obama’s health care mailer?


  6. Lurker says:

    To people who question if Iraq would have been attacked for the second time should Gore have managed to demand a real recount, here’s your answer.
    Hint: it would be that the pro-Israel lobbies control our foreign policy, which then renders us incapable of dealing with our domestic issues, because of the mass expenditures involved in constantly being at war with Muslim countries.
    BTW: Jews make up between 2-3% of the U.S. population, and many American Jews oppose war, it’s the ones who don’t that are putting Obama, Clinton Number II, and McCain on the rack to prove their pro-Israel cred.
    From the Chicago Sun Times 2/25/08
    OHIO | Obama assures Jewish leaders on religion, Israel stance
    WASHINGTON — The Sunday meeting with Cleveland area Jewish leaders was not on the schedule Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign gave reporters, but the stop in Mayfield Heights, hosted by Ron Ratner, a major fund-raiser for Obama, was one of the most important of the day. More than a year into his run for president, Obama is still explaining his record, relationships and religion to Jewish voters.
    Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) have been competing for Jewish support and stressing their pro-Israel credentials.
    Obama is taking criticism from the left and the right as he is facing crucial votes in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, states with significant Jewish populations.


  7. Adrian says:

    gee…where’s that call for a Billary apology for race baiting and fear mongering? I guess they were emailing the “Dressed” photo because it is not divisive. They did it to help him.
    How Delusional for me to think otherwise…


  8. David N says:

    As usual, I think this and every other debate is being ingaged on the wrong terms.
    The problem is that too many Americans do not have access to the health care they need, and that the health care industry is draining real resources without any return.
    The solution is not providing — mandated or not — greater COVERAGE. That is simply a way to increase the money flow to the insurance companies, and thus further padding their bottom line, without doing anything to solve the real problem of providing greater real health care.
    The solution is something that not only will never be implemented, it is something that will never be discussed by the corporate media and the corporate politicians. The real solution would impact corporate bottom lines; we will never mention such a thing in public.
    The real solution is a government-provided health care system, paid for by taxes. Health care will be provided to each according to his need, paid for by each according to his abilily.
    Private health care will then not be banned. If someone is wealthy enough to demand special treatment, welcome. That person can go to a private health care facility, and pay whatever they ask for the enhanced care they can afford.
    The corporate media and politicians will say that this is “government deciding what health care you get.” The problem is that the current system is not the patient and the doctor making those decisions, but one of a corporate accountant deciding what health care you get, according to the cost, not the need.
    The same, incidentally, is true for every other issue in the campaign. The Democrats have been browbeaten (or possibly even bought off) away from proposing real solutions. The economic stimulus package is absurd and useless, but the real solution — major investments in national infrastructure, including roads, mass transit, environment, water, and education that will pay off in economic growth (which does not happen due to tax cuts, as recent history has shown).
    But that would not be as good for the quarterly bottom line, even though the eventual economic collapse from the corporate-driven, greed-driven agenda of the current political class will hurt even the wealthy and corporate.
    But we don’t talk about that.
    Too bad.


  9. rich says:

    Yes, Obama is clearly exploiting the Harry & Louise advert dynamic that exploded the Clinton’s health care proposal the first time.
    The obstructionism during that first go-round was unfair and I was outraged both by it and by the sad fact that neither Clinton, policy gurus, the press, nor the Dem Establishment fought back hard enough to push it through at the time.
    Sen. Obama’s use of the pic carries risks; though there’s a much broader messaging & ‘feel’ going on that improves BO’s electoral outlook. That doesn’t mean he won’t adopt specific policies that reflect your insights & HRC’s policies when it comes to drafting legislation.
    More than fair to call Obama on it.
    At the same time, the ‘tough-luck-you-lost’ political thinkers who worship hardball know it’s about winning.
    So I have no sympathy with those who’ve taken that stance with constituencies pushing a serious message, and played hardball against less-viable candidates—but who now want to cry foul when they’re on the receiving end of it.
    In short, Hillary Clinton was already tagged with the Harry & Louise I adverts, and she’d have an arduous uphill fight to overcome that perception in the general election.
    She’s only in that position now, because the first time around, Mr. & Mrs. Clinton (& other players) didn’t fight hard enough vs. entrenched interests. So it’s a great test for the primaries: Clinton can overcome it now and be immunized for the fall, or she can fail to leap that hurdle, allowing the Dems to produce a more viable nominee.
    Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton isn’t letting up on the “Just win, baby” tactics. HRC Staffers apparently circulated a photo of Obama in ethnic dress (Kenyan, but highly resonant with Pakistani or Sudanese garments) (2/25).
    I’m not a fan of either website linked below, but feeding the American xenophobes among us cannot be defended or overlooked. (Note that HRC, Bush, & Bill Clinton ‘dressed’ similarly on visits abroad; photos @ the Drudge link.)
    Mon Feb 25 2007 06:51:00 ET
    With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a “dressed” Barack Obama.
    The photo, taken in 2006, shows Obama dressed as a Somali Elder, during his five-country tour of Africa.”
    The fact that these tactics cut both was is directly relevant. If ‘Just win, baby’ is an acceptable attitude towards your rivals–and it always has been in Przntl politics–then “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” is an approach that’s saucy for the gander as well.
    Personally, I don’t like to see the Clinton’s go down this way. But it was clear to me, pre-campaign, that reaching for the brass ring in 2008 didn’t exhibit much political acumen.


  10. erichwwk says:

    We will make no real progress on universal health coverage until we stop DENYING how delusional we have become relative to market and non-market solutions.The Soviet Union collapsed because it refused to recognize that there was such a thing as private property. The USA will eventually collapse unless it learns to recognize there is such a thing as a public/social good, and substitutes science for the ideology that demonizes “socialized” medicine.
    To talk in terms of separating the underlying economic problem from “political realities” is merely to put more lipstick on the pig. There simply is NO ROLE for insurance companies in the social good component of health care, just as there is no role for socializing the private aspects of medical services.
    Unfortunately, advisers with Univ. of Chicago blinders against social goods such as Obama has, do him and the nation a disservice. What is need is the courage to speak out on social goods, the acceptance that some goods are private, and the wisdom to know the difference. Whether or not a good is public or private (see footnotes, first page of the public “info” part of last years “Nobel” prize in economics on market mechanism or Wikipedia on public and private goods) is intrinsically determined by the nature of the good itself, and NOT something for politicians to determine any more than politicians have the ability to determine by decree the temperature at which water boils.


  11. leo says:

    Imagine my surprise when I found that these Vile, and Despicable, Ugly, ads were merely about details of mandates in Hillary’s healthcare plan… hahaha LOL.
    Only policy wonks and partisans would feel the “outrage” here I’m afraid.


  12. Donald from Hawaii says:

    Ironically, it was Tom Daschle’s support of Barack Obama that convinced me to vote for Mrs. Clinton.
    After all, it was Daschle who, as Senate Majority Leader in October 2002, did more to ensure the passage of the Iraq AUMF resolution than any other Democrat, save perhaps for Dick Gephardt. It was Daschle who scheduled AUMF for a floor vote, and who led the charge to defeat all mitigating amendments.
    Yet it has been Hillary Clinton who has undeservedly received the lion’s share of the blame for that legislative fiasco.
    While Barack Obama is a multi-light year improvement over the present White House occupant, he is certainly no “change” candidate. His endorsement by Daschle and Sen. John “Reporting for Duty!” Kerry tells me he is the Beltway’s new darling as our Democratic nominee, and yet another silver-tongued upholder of the status quo.
    I’ll vote for Obama, but I can’t help but think that we’re being set up by our Beltway friends for yet anther very big political disappointment.


  13. TonyForesta says:

    Twisting twirling commentary jim miller. The problem is, we either insure Americans and particularly our children, (even the notwhite, notrich children), or we don’t. If we don’t there are costs, economically, politically, socially, and morally. We can ignore these costs and heap them on the shoulders of our already deeply indebted children and grandchildren, – or we can begin to remedy these wrongs. Wrongs! America spends $600.00bn on defense (by far dwarfing the next ten nations expenditures) and another $66bn is disappeared in blackworld projects and operations. It is a question of priorities. America is the undisputed heavy champion of weapons proliferation. Do we want to be nation perpetuating and proselytizing neverendingwar, and profiteering from neverendingwar, – or do we want to provide some kind of basic health care to every American citizen, and especially our children, (including the notwhite, notrich children)?
    The choice is ours, and there are nuances and there should be debates along these lines, – but engorging the offsheet accounts of cronies, cabals, coteries, klans, and oligarchs in the healthcare, insurance, and pharmaceutical industrial complexes is pernicious policy, and harms vast populations of our fellow Americans who happen to be notrich, and notwhite.
    “Deliver us from evil!”


  14. jim miller says:

    dan k’s comments about the truck sized wedge are spot on…..can you see the commie comments about garnishing wages….why get in the mud?
    I am leary of both plans b/c I dont see huge benefits to either….after we deliver health insurance to all—-then what? seems like its a 3rd rail meaning how do we overcome all the b.s. that will flow from the bureacratic failure of delivery services that already exists….lets face it insurance companies are part of the problem…why will we further enable them with a monopoly over our purchasing health care? How will they be monitored? what will be their REAL profit ceiling? It just seems silly to me….the entire system is broken yet with think the solution is more users which will mean more providers….reminds of studies regarding the broken car industry of the 70’s and 80’s…very inefficent…..
    We need a savy, non partisan, but politically intelligent health czar to lead this important initative…The more I read all of the mostly wonderful posts from above the greedy capitalist in me kept wishing I could buy shorts on this iniative….seems ripe with poison…very ripe.
    While it seems very bandadish I hope that out of our national and local elections we are able to mandate improving our health care system. That will be the time to begin nuancing proposals…our problem and the costs and benefits
    of potential solutions have not been fully discussed or presented, unfortunately an election cycle with it’s current format does not present the appropriate platform for the type of nuanced discussion that a problem of this magnatude deserves….my opinion….


  15. Carroll says:

    Oh, this is soooooooo disgusting.
    CNN has a poll up on their web site asking if Obama is patriotic enough.
    Then I notice over at TPM there is a bit about a GOP senator saying on some talk show that Obama refuses to pledge allegiance to the US flag.
    This going to be a very, very dirty campaign season.


  16. rich says:

    I agree that:
    ” . . . people need to look beyond the tit-for-tat gaming between Obama and Clinton and get their heads around the policy parameters at stake. . .[etc.]”
    It’s important. Let’s do that.
    But our response to your contention that Obama should apologize for his mailer was not about getting into ‘tit-for-tat.’ Obama is no more likely to apologize than Clinton.
    Demanding he do so is, in your words, to “chase that windmill.”
    Sen. Obama, in challenging the Establishment candidate, has to have at his disposal all the tools and tactics Clinton used as frontrunner.
    I don’t see a bias to the post–I know you’re sending a message.
    ” . . the Clintons have done a number of things wrong– but guess what? They are losing this race. . .”
    As you well know, the Clinton bloc/machine is still angling for position and power. That means going after Florida & Michigan delegates (though many voters stayed home), going ballistic in Cincinnati on questionable grounds, and forcing/demanding support for the VP slot or Senate Majority Leader.
    It’s much too soon for Obama to relax and allow himself to believe Hillary is history. That’s why it’s important to explicitly state that Sen. Clinton has used the same tactics she’s denouncing now. It’s necessary to understand that, despite having great policy positions, virtually all of Sen. Clinton’s campaign has been about attacking Sen. Obama on at best false grounds.
    Key case in point: Sen. Obama was tarred as naive & idealistic, soft & inexperienced, and too weak & untested to play political hardball. Well, apparently not.
    Dislike that mailer as unfair; that’s fine, I don’t like the omission of subsidies either. But it’s an effective political tactic. It plays the game at the realpolitik level. It defies the smears Clinton’s leveled at him all season long.
    It shows Sen. Obama understands the fears of people who know they’ve been left out. And that he understands how Republicans will try to game the issue.
    Further, it implies Obama understands that mandating people buy insurance will not solve the broken insurance-medical industry. I’m for universal participation/universal coverage. But by itself, it’s no fix, and will inevitably exacerbate the problem.
    I’ve no doubt that, once elected, Prznt. Obama will adopt policy solutions from a broader toolbox than campaign positioning would otherwise indicate. Tactically, he has to appeal to moderates to counter McCain effectively. That’s a rhetorical exercise. Just as Bill Clinton allayed fears and eliminated issues that could be used against liberals, so Barack Obama refuses to get stuck with a ‘mandate’/anti-choice label.
    Note it’s an economic and libertarian issue that appeals to low-income and libertarian/conservative voters at the same time.
    In short, Sen. Obama will avoid being beaten by the ‘Harry & Louise’ gambit going into the general election. And you know those attacks will come. If Obama does not differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton’s health care stance in a way that Republicans can understand–he will pay a heavy price.
    This way, he’s in a credible position to address concerns from both sides.
    Clinton needed to run as who she is and what she is for. That was critical given Bill and the attacks on her from the right. Are there clips of her solutions broadcast on the nightly news? How would she fix the Constitution? The media has hardly dealt with her fairly, then or now; but playing by conventional political rules wisdom wasn’t gonna earn any new friends or serve her well.


  17. TonyForesta says:

    Things get blurred during elections, but the government imposing mandatory healthcare requirements, may make some kind of sense on paper, – but on the street where many Americans simply cannot afford any healthcare coverage, – any mandatory requirement is like a massive tax.
    I am one of the 47m without insurance, and have been since 1996, not out of choice, but necessity. My daugher and my ex-wife are covered, – but I simply cannot afford my own healthcare insurance.
    No complaints, – but do not further punish me, and force me to toss money I don’t have to the treacherous, heartless, thieves, and reprobates in the healthcare, insurance, and pharmaceutical industrial complexes.
    I like Obama’s plan because, the sad fact is there are many Americans that can never afford insurance. We’re poor. Eating, keeping a roof over your head, maintaining access to the child, and catastrophic divorce costs are the priorities I face, and while insurance would be nice – forget about affording it now. No way. I do not want, and cannot afford to be forced to purchase health insurance and pay for it every month. Mandatory insurance would heap a potentially crippling burden on the many people in my situation, or worse.
    While Barak is the instrument of hope, no candidate is really committed to advancing the best interests, and defending the rights of American. All politicians work for the highest bidder, and while a few exceptional candidates do offer and promise the hope of a leadership giving voice to the voiceless, and representing the American people, and NOT this or that oligarch, cabal, klan, church, or crony.
    Advancing the bests interests and defending the rights of the American people will inevitably conflict with advancing the bests interests and defending the rights of select oligarchs, cabals, klans, churches, or cronies.
    The people have no voice in the government. Politicians only pretend to work for us. But where Hillary, others bruting mandatory insurance would heap an intolerable burden on many Americans, Obama is focused on insuring the most Americans without mandates.
    Forcing Americans to hurl our hardearned dollars to the swindly heartless thieves, pathological liars, reprobates, and greedmongers in the healthcare, insurance, and pharmaceutical industrial complexes.
    “Deliver us from evil!”


  18. rich says:

    “I entirely disagree that Barack Obama’s plan achieves universal coverage or can even aspire to because of the high cost of covering American citizens on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum without inclusion of the middle class Americans who can afford insurance but elect not to get it.”
    Obviously you have to arrange universal participation to cover those “on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.” But that leaves systemic problems, like cost, in place. Vouchers or subsidies are a band-aid that fail to address root problems.
    Some have said these proposals are about universal insurance coverage, not universal health care.
    That’s a big problem: Americans have been ill-served by insurance companies when it comes to health care. Going to the doctor is scary enough; inserting insurance policies between patients and doctors just makes for a hateful system.
    And a hateful system is one people don’t want to participate in or contribute to.
    It’s not about free-riding the system, or feeling invulnerable, or selfishly not making payments. It’s about the insult and the hassle. It’s about patients getting the one, unmistakable message sent by insurance companies and doctors too: you don’t want us, you don’t need us, and you’ll make it as difficult, complicated, frustrating, and burdensome as possible to particpate. And since you don’t want us, since we obviously don’t belong, why participate?
    Show me a doctor. Let me give my money to a doctor. Let me get treatment. Make sure that doctor has the decency and respect to treat me like a human being.
    Fix the system so people actually want to participate; so it’s not an ordeal. My language skills are better than 99% + of the population. If I’m frustrated by the process, think of how others must be feeling. I’ve got a great job: it pays well. But the ‘health insurance’ was an insult. It’s about the anger. The truth is, they’re not settling for fat profits, they want their pound of flesh as well. I won’t be there long.
    Separate from that, wage garnishment will be demagogued by Republicans.
    Forcing everyone to buy health insurance, when the barriers to accessing health care and systemic hostility to effective delivery of health care by the insurance and medical industry are the problem.


  19. Mr.Murder says:

    Let’s not forget the wonderful golden parachute of no tax on social security for those making 50 k on it in a year.
    What golden planet is Barack Obama living on?
    I know people making six thousand a year on that. Way to look out for the little folk, Barack.


  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “… and for middle and upper income defectors, I don’t mind a layered garnishment trigger.”
    It doesn’t matter whether you mind it, Steve, or whether I mind it. It’s whether enough other people mind it to create a truck-sized opening for Republican opposition.


  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, I asked you this before, but you didn’t answer: can you tell me where the Harry and Louise adds are currently running? Is this a real, current issue, or are you just dredging up some moot past issue to find some area for Clinton traction?
    You say:
    “But let’s set all that aside. On a policy basis, I completely agree with Hillary Clinton’s perspective on health care — and I entirely disagree that Barack Obama’s plan achieves universal coverage or can even aspire to because of the high cost of covering American citizens on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum without inclusion of the middle class Americans who can afford insurance but elect not to get it.”
    Fair enough. But tell me this: do you really believe that passing a plan with full, enforced mandates is politically achievable in the near term? Or do you accept that the inclusion of mandates might be an Achilles’s heel that allows the Republicans to kill substantive health care reform entirely by going after its left-wing “statism” and its similarity to the Massachusetts plan which is now in a big mess over its unenforceable mandates?
    If I were the czar of health care, with the power to enact whatever plan I wanted by edict, I would probably include mandates in the plan. In fact, I would probably skip the mandates and just go to single payer. But none of is such a czar. Whatever plan is passed has to get through the US Congress, and all the institutional hurdles that entails. This is not just a think-tank or economics department *policy* debate. It is a real world *political* debate, and politics is a topic that people like Krugman never seem willing to entertain.
    The point that Obama has tried to make on the stump, really as diplomatically as possible, is to remind people that that Hillary Clinton *failed* to deliver health care reform when she was put in charge of it during the Clinton administration. And she is steering toward the same failure again, because for all her alleged “experience”, she has no clue about what it means to assemble the kind of coalition that can succeed in making the dramatic changes that are being called for, in the teeth of all sorts of corporate and institutional resistance.
    And that’s the point these ads try to make both in a direct and an indirect way. I really don’t understand the point Clinton supporters are trying to make about how blasted horrifying these ads are supposed to be. Is the idea that because of the original Harry and Louise ads, Democrats are forever after prohibited from running “kitchen table” ads? Can we run these kinds of ads against McCain? I mean, it’s not like the point these ads are trying to make is the same as the right-wing point the Harry and Louise ads made. So it seems like the criticism just comes down to some fuzzy “atmospheric” complaint about how these ads recall bad memories from the nineties. Well, tough. We’re going to have to grow up and face these hard memories if we don’t want to see the same massive failure all over again, and lose another 15 years.
    Steve, you’ve got a lot of nerve going after Obama from the left here when for months you lionized Chuck Hagel and promoted him as a Presidential candidate, despite the fact that his own domestic policy orientation is deeply conservative, and makes *both* Clinton *and* Obama look like Fidel Castro when it comes to government programs and domestic initiatives of any kind. I thought you were some kind of “radical centrist” anyway. Since when did you become Mr. Left Wing on health care? Aiming straight for the center on issue after issue is your prerogative, but it tends to undermine your credibility when it comes to lecturing real progressives on how to get health care done.
    There is no question which campaign has employed the most low-ball techniques in this campaign: in its amped-up and hostile stump rhetoric; in its dishonest mailings; in its exploitation of class, age, ethic and gender divisions; in its flagrant attempts to rewrite or obscure history and the candidate’s actual record, its been Clinton time after time with the low politics. Obama has done an extraordinary job staying on the high road and maintaining some sense of dignity, despite any number of Clinton low blows at which a less self-possessed candidate would have lashed out with equally low retaliation.
    One minute it’s Clinton talk about how “honored” she is to run against Obama. The next its the phony sentiment displays and self-pitying crying jags, the shrill thundering meltdowns, and the insulting mockery of Obama’s supporters. Obama has taken all this with the patience of a saint, and responded with gentlemanly restraint on the basis of substance to these attacks. He’s winning with dignity and attempted inclusiveness, while Clinton is *losing* by jettisoning restraint, honesty and self-respect. Is this what Tina Fey meant by “bitch is the new black?” Enough with this!


  22. Mr.Murder says:

    We’re the only first world nation without universal coverage.


  23. Steve Clemons says:

    jim miller — great note. thanks for the support. on point 1, i think that the political dimensions of punishing defectors from a universal health care system are important — and you solve this by saturating the bottom end with support, buffers, ombudsman, and layers upon layers of options before this happens. I don’t think that this kind of health care system can or should be deployed ‘on the cheap’ and thus I am one who believes that this problem can be solved….and for middle and upper income defectors, I don’t mind a layered garnishment trigger. We may just disagree on this one.
    On point 2, yes I believe that Hillary’s social security analogy is misleading. I think that she could have resorted to some Ross Perot like charts to show Americans why universal coverage with defections is doomed to fail and undermines the very core of what the Democratic party is supposed to be about.
    on point 3, I agree with you and think that pushing the high fear button is wrong — but since she has, she must show her own mistakes in the past. I think he too has a lot to show us yet on how he would make decisions — not those he innately comes to.
    Many thanks,


  24. jim miller says:

    I like and respect your peristence…
    1. Does anyone believe a mandated system is legistlatively possible? can you imagine the opposition ads regarding the court costs of garnishment…it just seems like a poisionous dissive wedge already laden in her proposal…I support a single payer solution…from a best for the country bottom line solution stand point it makes sense…plus the job growth it could lead to, if implemented correctly would be significant….
    2. In the Hc conversation dont you think her social security analogy is very misleading?
    3. As long as you have made yourself the “gutter cop of 08” then I have a genuine question…which is more undermining and divissive all this hubabub regarding HC or HRC’s disturbing rhetoric regarding being a watime president today?
    thanks for sharing your window!!!


  25. Mr.Murder says:

    As I noted in the thread below this one Steve, Obama’s economics adviser is a former Clinton NEC/CEA point man from almost day on of his tenure.
    The man prepared daily economics briefings for Clinton and has Obama’s ear, yet he’s somehow different than Hillary on trade, only the people who steered Clinton’s policy to an unwise course are doing the same for him.


  26. JP Carter says:

    The BO camp is sending a message to the McCain that he knows how to play the edges when it comes the ads. This is not about HC. He realizes that the he is now already dealing with the republican smear machine and he is trying put a shot across their bow. He is not going to let them get the upper hand. He knows he has the nomination. Why not try to see if the republicans take the bait. To corrupt a saying from a good movie…There are no apologies in politics. HC is attacking from a point of weakness. She failed and she is playing catch up. Your entry makes it look like this election process is some kind of gentleman’s game with rules and etiquette. It is far from it. Just so you know I am not a OB or HC fan. Just putting in my 2 cents worth. Thanks for letting me.


  27. K says:

    Obama took the wrong tack on health care many months ago, to distinguish himself from John Edwards’ position (which was pretty much the same as the position Hillary adopted and is supporting so forcefully to this day). Obama could back off from the position, but is choosing to ride it even further, and the Harry and Louise ads are the result.
    Unfortunately, given that Obama could be our next president, his position will limit whatever might eventually be accomplished on universal health care. By starting out aiming for less than universal coverage, ultimately we’ll end up with something less than might have been accomplished had he aimed higher.
    Alas, the health and lives of great numbers of Americans will be diminished because of his political calculation and his insistence of sticking to a bad position.
    Hillary chose to stick with her vote on Iraq, unlike Edwards (Obama’s position doesn’t count back then because he wasn’t in the Senate). That’s unfortunate, in my view — but nowhere nearly as bad for the party and the country as Obama’s limited aims for the future health of Americans.
    She’s right: Shame on you, Barack Obama.


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