Thursday, February 26, 2009

The President's Speech: The Shock Doctrine Reversed

Al Giordano over at The Field had an interesting article about The President's speech. He brings up a point that was missed by plenty of the pundits.
About Last Night: The Shock Doctrine Reversed
Posted by Al Giordano - February 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm
By Al Giordano


After offering the soundbite heard ‘round the world - "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before" - the President proceeded to make the case for three big domestic spending priorities: energy, health care, and education:
"The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. "

Those who liked to complain in recent weeks that the $787 billion dollar Stimulus Package was "not enough" behaved as if it were the only spending that would be proposed ever again from here to eternity. Yet we've already seen, just one day after the signing of the Stimulus, the rollout of $75 billion toward saving family homes during this housing crisis. And we'll look in a moment at what Obama, according to his speech last night, has on the docket for the immediate future.

First, it's important to note what is really going on here: The Obama-Axelrod-Emanuel war room has taken Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine - the observation that those in power use times of crisis to supplant the state with private sector capitalism - and turned it on its head. Instead, they're using the current economic crisis to bring back the New Deal (government stimulation of the economy and firmer regulation of the corporate sector) and the Great Society (domestic and social programs to create a safety net for American workers and the poor).

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Regarding health care, the President boomed, "we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.":
"Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

"This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform - a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American."

I didn't hear a single TV pundit last night or today pick up on what Obama is really up to here. It's in the bold type: "This budget builds on these reforms." He was talking about the budget he is about to propose. The next steps in creating national universal health care will come not in separate legislation which requires 60 out of 99 US Senate votes, but, rather, as part of the budget bill that, according to Congressional rules, needs simply a majority - 50 votes - to be passed and which cannot be subject to opposition filibuster.

That was exactly the point in the speech when Senate Republicans got those long unhappy looks on their faces. He had just ripped from them their only obstructionist power. They shifted nervously in their seats and scrunched their "holy crap" scowls. Skilled politicians all, they knew their goose had just been cooked. It was at that point in the speech that, after a couple of minutes of coming to grips with the new rules, they began to make a show of applause and standing ovations for the cameras. If you can't beat Obama, join him. It was a beautiful play to watch.


The rest of the article is HERE. Be sure to read the discussion in the comments section too. Interesting information there.

1 comment:

Liberal Arts Dude said...

The Cato Institute's David Boaz, interestingly enough, is making the same argument as Al Giordano. The difference between the two -- Giordano is happy about Obama being able to ram his agenda down the Republicans' throats; Boaz, as deregulation-loving, free-market worshiping Milton Friedman conservative, is quite unhappy.

The comment wars that ensued in both Al Giordano's blog and the Guardian web site are very interesting to read as well!