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Quit Playing Nice, Obama - Just Get Things Done

Date: Monday, August 17, 2009, 2:48 pm
By: Deborah Mathis,

I am loathe to give President Obama my two cents’ worth on practically any topic because he and his key advisors are conspicuously savvy - Exhibit A being the very fact that he is President Obama and not “former presidential contender” Obama. That took some strategic chops that I don’t have.

So, I will present my advice as a “wish,” as in, “I wish President Obama would get off this bipartisanship kick and use his political advantages to do what he know he needs to do.”

Now, I don’t pretend for one moment that running a large, powerful and widely diverse country is as simple as going down a “to do” list. Nor do I believe that a president should blindly follow an agenda without consideration of conflicting views, needs and expectations. That’s what dictators do.

But I also know that a real leader has at least one truth that, for him or her, is unalterable, and when that truth collides with circumstances, that leader should either insist on making the circumstances match the truth or else surrender the title.

Like health care. I believe Obama holds as truth that every American deserves access to enough medical care to stay alive and well. And he obviously knows that, under the current circumstances, millions don’t have that access because they can’t cover the cost themselves and can’t get insurance to cover it for them.

From that collision point comes the current health care – or health care insurance – reform debate. Obama has done the right thing in putting the issue on the front burner.

But his insistence on playing nice with a party that is gunning for him is strangling the life out the rare opportunity to wield a political hammer – Democratic-controlled White House, Senate and House – and beat out a solution.

People often mistake kindness for weakness, but every now and then, they’re right. This appears to be one of those times. It’s as if the president believes he can charm every devil and shame every scoundrel into doing the right thing. But that presupposes that there is an intact conscience available. For many of the president’s political foes, there is no higher calling than the three power objectives: To get power, to keep power and to grow power. Simply put, they want to take Obama’s power from him and divvy it up among themselves.

Make no mistake; this is going to be a hard row to hoe. The administration is already beginning to show signs of caving into Republican mules – along with the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats,” hinting that it just might abandon the public option of health care – a gigantic group plan underwritten by the federal government.

But if he ditches the public option altogether, his true-blooded Democratic support is in jeopardy. So, in effect, the administration is entering the no-win zone.

However his plan ends up, I hope the president will take to heart the lesson that presents itself in regard to the bipartisan ideal. It should be attempted, it does require patience, and compromise is nearly always involved.

But sometimes you’ve got to face the fact that bipartisanship begins with an equal desire. It’s like being in love. If only one person feels it, it won’t work.

Far be it from me to urge the president of the United States to tell the opposition where to stick it.

But I wish he would.
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I still think that Obama and his election “team” are given too much credit for brilliance, in the general election, but I will give a little more credit for the caucus strategy in the primaries. I think the cards created an opportune situation, as much as, the wisdom of Obama and his handlers. So no one should have to preface their criticism, cloaked in suggestions, by paying homage to perceived brilliance of the Obama “Team”. Certainly there has been much less talk of brilliance post election than pre election, which is why the approval rating of Obama and the Democrats are falling. What you have is the public realization that the “Team” is typical politicians, when the expectations were for the atypical.

I am for Universal Health Care for all Americans. However, it’s not a win-win proposition, which is why I believe there is much resistance despite the majority of American believing that we need reform. To get something, you have to give up something. America will give up something to get Universal Health Care and Democrats rarely note this truth. We don’t live in a “Surplus” environment, where additions can be made without subtractions. Some people will lose something in order that others may gain something. It may mean a lower standard of living for Americans. It may mean that some with excellent care now may only receive “good” care in the future. It may be these things and a whole lot more or none of these things and something else negative.

That said, I am also sick of the opposition party and opposition spokesman’s like Shawn Hannity, Glen Beck and the like. I think that they are totally disingenuous in their opposition because they are for the most part in opposition to the Democratic Party and Obama. The political mantra of opposition parties today, whether it be Democrats during Bush or Republicans during Obama is this: “It’s not that we must succeed….it’s that the opposition must fail”. That is a paraphrased quote from the great Carthaginian General Hannibal. Opportunity only comes to the opposition party via the perceived failure of the incumbent party. Therefore, it’s in the interest of the opposition party to ferment failure of incumbent policies and initiatives….in order to ultimately claim victory. In the process…..the TRUE well being of the nation is trampled and there is no moral supremacy in regards to such behavior between the parties.
Obama aide says president still favors public health plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House sought to reassure jittery supporters Monday that President Obama is not abandoning the fight for a public health insurance option.

The assurance came amid a media firestorm ignited over the weekend by administration officials seeming to indicate a willingness to drop such an option in order to secure congressional approval of a health care reform bill.

The verbal maneuvering reflected the steep political challenge facing an administration trying to balance the competing priorities of the more conservative Senate and the more liberal House of Representatives.

"The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans, and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market," White House aide Linda Douglass said in a written statement.

"He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals."

The administration seemed to step back from its insistence on such an option over the weekend, when Obama said it is "not the entirety of health care reform."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president could be "satisfied" without it. And Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" that a public insurance plan is "not the essential element." VideoWatch Sebelius, others talk about the issue »

The move seemed to be a concession to critics, particularly Republican lawmakers who have assailed the idea of the government playing that kind of role. Yet it also stirred up frustration from those on the left who believe such an option is critical.

"Recent comments by Obama administration officials regarding the public option and health reform are deeply troubling," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, said in a written statement.

Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that "any bill without a public health insurance plan like Medicare is not health reform."

Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a doctor and one-time presidential candidate, told NBC's "Today Show" on Monday that he believes a public option "is the entirety of health care reform; it's not the entirety of insurance reform."

A petition on his Web site reads, "A public option is the only way to guarantee health care for all Americans and its inclusion is non-negotiable."

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona and co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warned that a significant number of House liberals would oppose any bill that does not include a "robust public option."

"Our position has not, and will not, change," he said. "I will not support any bill that does not include a public option."

But making the issue negotiable might be a necessity for any legislation to pass through the Senate. Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, one of six Senate Finance Committee members who have been trying to hammer out the first bipartisan compromise bill, said Sunday a public option simply won't make it through Congress.

"The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been," Conrad told "FOX News Sunday." VideoWatch bloggers give their opinions of the focus on the public option »

Instead of a public option, the negotiators are considering a plan proposed by Conrad to create nonprofit health insurance cooperatives that could negotiate coverage as a collective for their members.

Such cooperatives, which have already been established in cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Seattle, Washington, are designed to provide better coverage at a lower cost for their members in part by funneling profits back into the system.

They are also designed to help alter the larger health care landscape by forcing private competitors to lower their prices. Liberal critics note, however, that membership in a cooperative is not free of cost. Cooperatives can -- and often do -- reject prospective members, and are therefore less likely than other public alternatives to help reach the goal of universal health coverage. VideoWatch a senior medical correspondent talk about co-ops and the uninsured »

Some conservatives, on the other hand, have suggested that any government-supported insurance option will create an uneven playing field in the industry. Private insurers won't be able to compete, the conservative critics argue, eventually leading to a situation in which the government will control a great deal of the health care in America.

"We have the best health care system in the world," Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told "FOX News Sunday." "We need to expand it. We do not need to destroy it."

Supporters of a public option say it will create a badly needed level of competition, ultimately benefiting the public. At a town hall event Saturday in Grand Junction, Colorado, Obama said, "I think that we can craft a system in which you've got a public option that has to operate independently, not subsidized by taxpayers -- it would be nonprofit ... they would have to go on the market and get a market price for capital."

He added, "I think there are ways that we can address those competitive issues."

But White House efforts to sway fiscally conservative Democrats -- the so-called Blue Dogs in the House of Representatives -- continued to run up against an apparent constituent backlash Monday.

Rep. Allen Boyd, a seven-term Blue Dog, told constituents at a town hall meeting in his northern Florida district that he could not support the current House bill because it does not do enough to control exploding health care costs. VideoWatch a report about the town hall meeting »

One constituent nevertheless castigated Boyd for not doing enough to stop the push for reform.

"If we let [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and people like that direct us, we are doomed," the constituent said to loud applause. "We want Allen to ... do a good job for us, like he used to do, but [he] can't do that with that bunch of scoundrels."

Pelosi later issued a statement saying that "there is strong support in the House for a public option. ... A public option will keep insurance companies honest and increase competition."

Speaking to reporters in his home state of Pennsylvania, Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter said Monday that Obama needs to clarify his preference for either cooperatives or a more traditional public option.

The president now "has to make the evaluation as a matter of leadership as to what the administration wants to do," he said.

Specter, who was a Republican before switching parties earlier this year, said he preferred a more traditional public option but might be willing to back the idea of cooperatives.

"I'm not willing to write off the public option, because there are some people who are discouraged about it," he said. "The [cooperatives] might have the same elements, where there is an operation which is not for profit. But let's write the bill, let's consider it, and let's try to do something positive."

CNN's Dana Bash and Ed Henry contributed to this report.

Find this article at:
CBC, Far Left Blast Obama Over Public Option

Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009
By: Frederick Cosby, Special to

Is the doe-eyed love-fest between President Barack Obama, African-Americans and political liberals over?

Health care reform is giving Obama a headache, and the pain isn’t just coming from the pounding he’s getting from Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats, who complain that his plan costs too much and maintain that the federal government shouldn’t get into the health insurance business by offering a public insurance option.

Obama’s also been taking a lot of lumps lately from his core-constituents – blacks and liberals – who fear he’s getting weak-kneed and is walking away from promises that he made on the campaign trail and in his initial days in the White House.

“I wonder if the White House truly understands the depth of anger they’ll face from the progressive side if they fail to pass health care reform with a strong public option,” Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas Zuinga wrote on his liberal Web site Monday. “We haven’t busted our asses the last four years to pass bank bailouts and give insurance companies everything they ever wanted. If we wanted that, we’d be Republicans.”

New political bruises came aplenty for Obama on Monday as he got blasted by the Congressional Black Caucus and former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suggested over the weekend that the White House might be willing to chuck the government-run public option component, saying it wasn’t “the essential element” of comprehensive reform.

That set Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee off. Lee (D-Calif.) said Monday that remarks about health care by Sebelius and other White House officials on the Sunday news shows were “deeply troubling.”

“Any bill without a public health insurance plan like Medicare is no health reform,” Lee said in a written statement. “Without a public option, there will be no way to keep insurance companies honest and their rates down. A public health option that competes with private insurers will set standards that could help lower costs and improve access.”

Dean, a physician and former Vermont governor, was more succinct.

“Let’s not say we’re doing health reform without a public option,” said Dean, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. “You really can’t do health reform” without the public option.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) offered his own veiled slap at the Obama White House Monday, saying that “opposing the public plan is an endorsement of the status quo.”

“I am not interested in passing health care reform in name only,” he said. “Without a public option, I don’t see how we will bring real change to a system that has made good health care a privilege for those who can afford it.”

But health care isn’t the only area where Obama is getting an earful. Frustrated supporters, black and white, are venting that Obama isn’t being tough enough on his Republican opponents and that there’s been little change between the Obama White House and the Bush administration in the handling of terrorism suspects.

Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor and confidant, encountered some black/liberal displeasure with the president at last Saturday’s Netroots Nation conference of liberal bloggers in Pittsburgh.

She was heckled and asked why Obama had adopted several of former President George W. Bush’s policies that he criticized as a candidate and why he won’t release photos of alleged abuses inflicted upon terrorism suspects in American custody.

"I hear the frustration, and I hear the kind of hissing," said Jarrett, according to an account on the "I hear you. Settle down over there, settle down."

"I'm asking you to trust [the president]," she continued, "and I know that's hard because I know how pure you are to the cause. But he also has to keep in mind that he has to keep those folks safe."

As for the public option measure in the health care bill, Jarrett assured the liberal bloggers that Obama wouldn’t go wobbly on them.

"Let me be very clear, and I talked to the president yesterday about this knowing I was coming here," said Jarrett. "The president wants the public option. He has made that clear everywhere he has gone."

The next day, Sebelius took to the airwaves and made her remarks. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, appearing Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” sidestepped a question on whether Obama would stand firm on the public option.

“The bottom line again is do individuals looking for health insurance in the private market have choice and competition?” he said. “If we have that, the president will be satisfied.”

Of all the mounting frustration among blacks and liberals over Obama’s stewardship, perhaps none stood out more than the CBC’s. Many political observers thought the black caucus – with four members chairing major committees in the House of Representatives and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as the third-ranking House Democrat – would stand by Obama through thick and thin.

But many black caucus members have created space between themselves and the president and have sided with the House’s Progressive, Hispanic, and Asian-American caucuses in full-throated support of the health care public option.

“I will not be able to support a health care reform bill that does not guarantee the creation of a public option that will provide an alternative for the 47 million uninsured Americans and millions who are facing rising premiums and co-pays,” Rep. Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.) said Monday.

The CBC’s break with the Obama administration on health care doesn’t surprise several CBC members, who predicted that they would sometimes be a critical voice, even with a black man sitting in the Oval Office.

“I think the role of the Congressional Black Caucus will not alter from its roadmap,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) told a symposium at Massachusetts’ Williams College just days after Obama won the election. “And we can tread in places as people of color where we have not been before, whether its energy, health care, higher levels of education, and higher levels of corporate America.”
What makes you think things can get done in Washington?

How many power blocks exist that we are not even aware of?

What is to stop the people that run any bureaucracy from dragging its feet as much as possible on any presidential directive? But produce blizzards of paperwork to make it look like it is going as fast as possible? Does anybody really think that Obama is in control?

I can't really comprehend how our economists and all of our universities can not talk about the trillions of dollars of depreciation of automobiles for the last 50 years. But they have done it. And apparently most people think its normal even though they never thought about it. Reality is a collective delusion based on missing information. How does anyone know what information they are missing?


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