Joho the Blog » 7.5 hours later

7.5 hours later

I watched virtually all of the health care summit, even though I initially intended to watch the beginning and then get some damn work done. Some random responses:

  • Obama kept the tone right. He continues to model democracy for us: People disagreeing but still treating one another with respect. The biggest lesson of the Obama presidency so far for me is what it looks like to consistently treat people with dignity.

  • Overall (i.e., there were certainly exceptions), the Democrats tried to find areas of agreement, while the Republicans pointed to areas of disagreement.

  • Overall, the higher up in the party leadership you were, the more likely you were to waste our time repeating talking points. (Not true for the President and Vice President.)

  • We ought to have a rule: no more anecdotes. We really don’t need to hear about relatives and constituents who were treated well or badly. It proves nothing. We already know the stakes are real and high. Now we need a policy.

  • The Republicans are better at staying on message. I wish the Democrats had responded to the Republican call for a “step by step” policy and “starting over” by saying “Give us an up-or-down vote on health care reform, and if it loses, we’ll start over and go step by step.” An “up-or-down vote” is the old Republic talking point that means a vote with a simple majority.

  • I was glad to see some of the Democrats push back against the Republicans’ ridiculous attempt to tell us that the Founding Fathers wanted a 60-vote majority in the Senate.

  • I think the Republicans came off well. A whole bunch of ideas that I thought were crazy I now think are merely wrong. Seriously. It was good to hear their thinking laid out, starting with Lamar Alexander, who I thought did an excellent job.

  • I’ll be surprised if this summit results in bipartisan legislation. But, it succeeded if only because it showed us what it’s like to have both parties in the same room acting like grownups.

6 Responses to “7.5 hours later”

  1. I agree with all your points. What was so disappointing is the absence of any convergence. The underlying problem was that the Democrats had already compromised their plan, and moved it substantially toward Republican and conservative (read: pro-business) objectives. It’s hard to find reasonable common ground when you’ve already done a lot of compromising.

    Still, I think Obama did a reasonable job of making it clear that the Republicans don’t think we can afford to extend coverage to more than 3 million (out of 50 million) uninsured. And, that they also don’t think we can afford to require that people with pre-existing conditions be given coverage.

    The overall problem is that we’ve become conditioned to equating “having healthcare insurance” with “having healthcare.” 99% of the complexity of the bills and the negotiations is because we keep dancing away from the stark reality that profit-seeking and health-seeking are orthogonal objectives.

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  3. I too watched all I could, except when cable channels cut away for their obnoxious “analysis.” (We could not get a C-Span channel carrying it and had trouble with streaming video sites.)

    I agree with all your points, but especially the first and last. And I was surprised at all the comments about its being boring. I also agree with all Terry’s points, especially his last.

    I don’t see much chance for real democracy in our country as long as both parties are pro-business all the time. Andrew Weiner’s proclamation on the floor of the House that the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the health insurance industry could also be applied to a surprisingly large number of Democrats, especially in the Senate. Glenn Greenwald points out how various Democrats are vehemently in favor of a progressive policy until they actually come close to having a chance to pass something. Then they become very centrist — see Sen. Rockefeller on the public option.

    I’ve long noted how Republican politicians dupe well-meaning citizens to vote against their own economical self-interest. But I’ve just recently tumbled to the realization that Democrats are also guilty of a similar, though somewhat more subtle, deceptive pattern. It’s not so much that they are inept; they are basically insincere. See Sen. Dodd and Wall Street reforms.

    We need a constitutional amendment to get big money and corporations out of elections. I don’t think we have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it, but I really believe it’s the only real solution.

  4. So now you are one of Obama’s cloven-hoofed minions. Disgusting.

  5. Joho the Blog » 7.5 hours later…

    Joho the Blog » 7.5 hours later…

  6. Disgusting and shameful.

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