President Barack Obama: Will Likely Continue to Tilt Rightward in Light of Mid-Term Election Results

It seems that President Barack Obama may be interpreting the so-called shellacking (not outside recent historical norms as I discussed in a previous post) to his seeming tilt to the working folk of America. As a result, he will tilt further right politically in the next two years, especially as he nears his own re-election.

I say that President Obama was already tilted toward the right of center and the elites long before the 2010 election, especially since he stated that the health-care bill that was passed with a split in the Democratic Party was a bill with Republican underpinnings.

Even with President Obama’s and the conservative Democrats’ accommodation of the Republicans (who refused his entreaties), Democrats in swing districts still lost. Perhaps since those Democrats were Republican-like, the voters decided to vote for the genuine article.

Regardless of the reasoning for the loss of Democratic losses, the election left the method of some Democrats to lean toward Republicans (and abandon true-believer Democrats) as a failure.  An example of this was seen by the slow-footed response to the wrongful treatment of Shirley Sherrod.

Some issues coming up will show what President Obama will do in light of a shift in the political reality. Consistent with his 2-year attempt to satisfy Republicans, I believe President Obama will continue to conduct his politics that way now that Republicans, for now, control the House of Representatives. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear that President Obama must essentially become a Republican to satisfy them.

On the issue of extending the “Bush tax cuts,” President Obama stated an implicit willingness to provide an extension.

So my goal is to sit down with Speaker-elect Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Harry and Nancy sometime in the next few weeks and see where we can move forward in a way that, first of all, does no harm; that extends those tax cuts that are very important for middle-class families; also extends those provisions that are important to encourage businesses to invest, and provide businesses some certainty over the next year or two.

And how that negotiation works itself out I think is too early to say.  But this is going to be one of my top priorities, and my hope is, is that given we all have an interest in growing the economy and encouraging job growth, that we’re not going to play brinksmanship but instead we’re going to act responsibly.

His press secretary followed up with a confirmation of the plan to negotiate with the GOP on the Bush tax cuts.

MR. GIBBS:  I don’t want to do the negotiations here, but we’re certainly open to listening to their position, talking about it and working together to find a compromise that moves this issue forward.  Our biggest concern is if this Congress does not act by the end of the year, taxes for middle-class families is going to go up.  We can’t, and we shouldn’t, let that happen.  We have the power to change that and I think the power is sitting together and coming up with a plan that works for both sides.  I think the President is confident that we can do that.

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President Barack Obama: President’s Rhetorical Sleight-of-Hand Tactics May Have Disillusioned Party Base of Dems; GOP Is No Better

‘I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.’ –Velma Hart

President Barack Obama laments that the enthusiasm surrounding his 2008 campaign is not present in 2010. Perhaps it is how he disregards his party’s base to satisfy the unsatisfiable right wing that is causing problems.

However, the disappointment is not only for President Obama, its also for the seeming collapse of the ability of the government to manage the country’s affairs. It seems that a handful of billionaires are now in charge of government policy. The GOP and its billionaire-funded “tea party” and its unseasoned, untrustworthy candidates does not inspire confidence either.

Some issues I have had concerns with follow.

The health-care bill should have been a great achievement. Instead, it’s mired with equanimity because of the closed-door deals negotiated with the health-insurance industry to pass it and his determined opposition to the single-payer proposal. Also, the long lag time for full implementation does not help the situation.

President Obama’s Deficit Commission and its likely proposals against Social Security cause concern. (The site of the Deficit Commission is located at www.fiscalcommission.gov.)

President Obama’s and his Administration’s behavior toward Shirley Sherrod was profoundly disappointing.

The Obama Administration’s positions toward public schools and public school teachers is a huge slap of disrespect.

Health Insurance Reform: Senate Bill (with House Fixes) Passes; Now for the Hard Work–Ensuring the Promises Become Real

In the debate for health care insurance reform, I am disappointed with how far from the idea of single payer that the present law is (H.R. 3590, H.R. 4872). I watch cautiously to see how the real world interprets and executes this law. When former Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams closed D.C. General Hospital, he offered magnificent plans. Needless to say, not a shovel of dirt has been moved to this day to implement those plans.

The  issues of concern is the individual mandate and the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.

The provision for the individual mandate to purchase a private industry product is understandable theoretically, but I am wary for placing that much trust on a monopolistic health insurance industry. One thing of which I am certain–the highly paid executives of those companies will not reduce their salaries or their bloated bureaucracies.

Hopefully, the health care law can address this somehow. There will be a test with the next premium increase, Wellpoint’s increase received a tongue lashing from President Barack Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services; however, the premium increase remains in effect. I truly hope this does not foretell reactions in the future.

The excise tax is another provision that must be watched. Will premiums be raised to such an extent that by the time the tax comes into effect that even more purchasing power is removed from wage earners who barely scrape by with a skyrocketing cost-of-living?

It is a shame that certain beneficial provisions of the law is clouded by these not-so-beneficial provisions, but that is how the politicians crafted the bill.

Health Care “Reform”: The Process is an Abject Failure; Senate Bill (H.R. 3590), Supported by President Obama, is the Worst of the Bills under Consideration

Now it seems that the consensus political opinion is to pass the failed Senate bill, H.R. 3590, at any cost lest the voters think that the majority power Democratic party is unable to govern. H.R. 3590 is simply not the vehicle of true reform: The mandate to buy a private industry product (H.R. 3590’s use of the commerce clause seems questionable (opposing view)) and the excise tax on employer-provided health insurance should doom the bill to failure.

President Barack Obama issued his proposal, but the President is no longer a Senator so he cannot propose legislation. Also, his proposal is not in the form of a bill and is too late since the House already passed H.R. 3962, and the Senate passed H.R. 3590. It may be an elaborate cover to allow the House just to pass H.R. 3590 without any changes. Given the agreement of the President with the industry, I am sure he wants all of H.R. 3590, regardless of his speeches to the contrary.

The House is facing renewed pressure to pass the offensive striker amendment composed H.R. 3950. Should the House pass the Senate bill, the House can rest assured that the bill will not be altered (so-called sidecar reconciliation) and go straight to the President to sign.

The whole process has been disappointing, and those politicians who vote for this false “reform” bill deserve to suffer political defeat.

Post script:

Presidential summit on health care

Health Care “Reform”: President Barack Obama Planning Summit; Discussion Seems to be Geared to Pass Senate Bill

[Update 2/22/10: President Barack Obama posted his proposal for health care “reform.” Unsurprisingly, the President’s proposal is similar to the Senate bill–with the unacceptable in any form excise tax and the mandate to by a private industry product-health insurance policy.]

According to Talking Points Memo, President Barack Obama is planning a summit, which would consider these issues (emphasis (in bold) mine)–

The President will then open and moderate discussion on four critical topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction.

The bolded portion of the agenda I think is a discussion of the so-called cadillac tax on high-cost insurance plans (in H.R. 3590). Despite the President’s State of the Union address, he seems obstinate in his support of this middle-class unfriendly tax, supposedly to bring down the deficit.

I have covered this issue in depth previously on this blog and my opinion remains–the cadillac tax is the worst idea in the bill, followed closely by the mandate to buy a private industry product-health insurance. This legislation proves the adage that the devil is in the details. No one should take any politician’s words at face value. One has to read the bill to verify every statement uttered about the legislation.

I am hoping that these politicians do not rush through this bill at the wee hours in the morning without giving the public time to get the legislation and review it.

Health Care “Reform”: Best Plan–Redo the Bill to Be in Line with the Expectations of the Citizenry; Reject Any “Plan B”

With a new U.S. Senator-elect from Massachusetts, it had been proposed that the House pass the Senate’s version of health care “reform,” H.R. 3590, and send it to the President. This would be unwise for several reasons.

The House and the White House negotiated with the labor unions about the so-called cadillac tax on high cost health insurance plans. If this is done, would the citizenry have to assume that the word of its representatives is dirt when they turn their back on good-faith negotiations? [Note: Those negotiations were inadequate.]

Moreover, the Senate Bill is rife with problems and is itself an offensive document: The Senate completely ignored the work of the House in H.R. 3962, when the House, too, passed it with narrow margins. I do not see how House members can just pass H.R. 3590 without having any input on H.R. 3590 whatsoever. Why doesn’t the Senate pass H.R. 3962 [I argue this theoretically because the House bill, too, is far from ideal (just not as far out as H.R. 3590)]?

The Senate Bill also has at least two significant flaws: a mandate to buy a private company’s product or be fined by the Internal Revenue Service and the tax on high cost health insurance plans, which only encourages the further erosion of expensive, basic health insurance. This is not reform at all, only a stimulation of the health insurance industry. It would be better for the health insurance companies to control their outrageous overhead first.

Real health care reform starts also with nothing less than single payer.

Health Care “Reform”: President Barack Obama Blames Republicans of Potentially Acting Like Democrats

The President essentially blames Republicans of being supplicants of corporations, when he and his Administration are doing the same thing now.

Consider these quotes (emphasis (in bold) mine).

Excerpt from the remarks of President Barack Obama at the house Democratic Caucus Retreat, January 14, 2010:

So, I know everybody in the media is all in a tizzy — “Oh, what’s this going to mean politically?”  Well, let me tell you something.  If Republicans want to campaign against what we’ve done by standing up for the status quo and for insurance companies over American families and businesses, that is a fight I want to have. (Applause.)  If their best idea is to return to the bad policies and the bad ideas of yesterday, they are going to lose that argument.  What are they going to say?  “Well, you know, the old system really worked well; let’s go back to the way it was”?  That’s not going to appeal to seniors who are now seeing the possibility of that doughnut hole finally closing and so they can finally get discounts on their prescriptions.  (Applause.)  That’s not going to appeal to the small businesses who find out all the tax credits that they’re going to get for doing right by their employees — something that they have been wanting to do, but may not have been able to afford.  It’s not going to be very appealing to Americans who for the first time are going to find out that they can provide coverage to their children, their dependents, all the way up to the age of 26 or 27.

Really, the corporatist (“centrist”) Democrats are doing the same thing that the President blames the Republicans of  planning to do in campaigns.

Excerpt of interview with journalists, Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner, on the Bill Moyers’ Journal:

ROBERT KUTTNER: Rahm Emanuel, the President’s Chief of Staff, was Bill Clinton’s Political Director. And Rahm Emanuel’s take away from Bill Clinton’s failure to get health insurance passed was ‘don’t get on the wrong side of the insurance companies.’ So their strategy was cut a deal with the insurance companies, the drug industry going in. And the deal was, we’re not going to attack your customer base, we’re going to subsidize a new customer base. And that script was pre-cooked so it’s not surprising that this is what comes out the other side.

BILL MOYERS: So are you saying that this, what some call a sweetheart deal between the pharmaceutical industry and the White House, done many months ago before this fight really began, was because the drug company money in the Democratic Party?

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it’s two things. Part of it was we need to do whatever it takes to get a bill. Never mind whether it’s a really good bill, let’s get a bill passed so we can claim that we solved health insurance. Secondly, let’s get the drug industry and the insurance industry either supporting us or not actively opposing us. So that there was some skirmishing around the details, but the deal going in was that the administration, drug companies, insurance companies are on the same team. Now, that’s one way to get legislation, it’s not a way to transform the health system. Once the White House made this deal with the insurance companies, the public option was never going to be anything more than a fig leaf. And over the summer and the fall, it got whittled down, whittled down, whittled down to almost nothing and now it’s really nothing.

Full video of interview is on the PBS website.