Monday, August 10, 2009

Ten Things Obama Did Wrong on Health-Care Reform

From Crooks and Liars

Ten Things Obama Did Wrong on Health-Care Reform
By Susie Madrak
Saturday Aug 08, 2009 4:00pm


Helen's right, damn it. And look at Gibbs' deflection: "We've had a pretty good week." Sorry, Gibby, health-care reform is slowly slipping away. Don't just stand there.

Here are my thoughts on what the White House did wrong, in no particular order:

1) Obama outsourced the legislation to Congress instead of presenting it himself and working with them to write the details. He thought he'd outsmart the GOP by doing the opposite of the Clinton plan, but instead the bill is now lost on a sea of "compromise."

2) Bipartisanship. You just can't work with ideologues who refuse to operate in good faith. They're true believers, they will never give an inch. You'd think Obama would have picked up that little lesson while studying the Clinton era.

3) Blue Dogs. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi need to come up with new strategies, since kissing their collective Blue Dog butts only inflates their already-swollen egos. Someone (Obama?) should lay down the law. Put them in the worst offices, cut their staff budgets until they cooperate. Lyndon Johnson wouldn't be holding their hands.

4) Single payer. It would have been so much easier if we'd started with it. Hell, we might even have won - and it's simple enough that most people would understand. But whatever.

5) He should have come out fighting for the public option earlier this year. Instead, he let the opponents (and the insurance companies) define the public perception. BIG rookie mistake.


Other 5 at link above, and I don't disagree with any of them.

3 comments:

The Angry Independent said...

Here are my thoughts on what the White House did wrong, in no particular order:

1) Obama outsourced the legislation to Congress instead of presenting it himself and working with them to write the details. He thought he'd outsmart the GOP by doing the opposite of the Clinton plan, but instead the bill is now lost on a sea of "compromise."
I agree. Not having a plan to push turned this into an easy Turkey shoot for the Republican Media.

2) Bipartisanship. You just can't work with ideologues who refuse to operate in good faith. They're true believers, they will never give an inch. You'd think Obama would have picked up that little lesson while studying the Clinton era.
Today it's even worse than the Clinton era... because Republicans are even more motivated to obstruct. You also didn't have the racial undertones back in the 90's that we have now. That's a serious motivator for the Right Wing activists.

3) Blue Dogs. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi need to come up with new strategies, since kissing their collective Blue Dog butts only inflates their already-swollen egos. Someone (Obama?) should lay down the law. Put them in the worst offices, cut their staff budgets until they cooperate. Lyndon Johnson wouldn't be holding their hands.
I somewhat agree. What's happening is that these Blue Dogs are basically worried about winning their elections. They have been targeted by right wing groups... threatened with big election challenges if they go along with the Administration. They are in a tough position. They should be listened to.... but at the end of the day, they should support what the people in their State support (i'm referring to the Senators). And before the propaganda... most Americans wanted a public option.
There is also the problem of Pelosi. I have been saying this for years... that she would not be a good House Speaker (and that is turning out to be the case). She has 2 big weaknesses... 1). She doesn't know how to talk to the American people in a way that allows her views to resonate...and 2). She's not a strong leader...she doesn't know how to wield any authority to get things done... because she doesn't have the authority to wield.


4) Single payer. It would have been so much easier if we'd started with it. Hell, we might even have won - and it's simple enough that most people would understand. But whatever.
Disagree... Single Payer was never a realistic option. As much as I wanted it... in the back of my mind I knew that it would be dead on arrival. And I was correct. The Single Payer bill never got off the ground. All Republicans would have been against it...as well as a good number of Democrats. It would have lost in the Senate 4-1 (and that's probably the best it would have done). This is why Obama scrapped the idea early.

5) He should have come out fighting for the public option earlier this year. Instead, he let the opponents (and the insurance companies) define the public perception. BIG rookie mistake.

Absolutely True.

The Angry Independent said...

6) It's one thing to meet with relevant stakeholders (insurance companies, Big Pharma, etc.) It's another thing to trust them. (See Otter, "Animal House": "You f***ed up, you trusted me!")

Agree 110%. They made the Obama Administration look like fools. Now the big private companies are going to get a winfall from the main bill being considered... (Private co-op plan).... while the overall system won't change much at all... It will put $Billions more into the private healthcare industry...AND this bad bill is going to cost an arm and a leg without accomplishing Obama's original goals. Like I mentioned... Obama would be better off retreating at this point...and trying again later (like I stated he should have done from the beginning...waited).

7) He should have included a public advocate to speak for ordinary people in every healthcare meeting. (Hell, does he even HAVE a public advocate? Because he should. I'm available.)

May or may not have worked. I agree, there should have been surrogates...but in the big scheme of things... that probably wouldn't have made much of a difference.

8 ) Obama is just not good at explaining complicated things to ordinary people, especially when he's not working from a script. He drones on and goes off on tangents. He should use more surrogates, Michelle might have done a better job. Hell, Bo might have done a better job. (I understand the political reasons he didn't ask Bill Clinton, but that may have been a fatal error. The Big Dog would have sold the hell out of the healthcare plan.)

There is also the problem of the American people not being able to keep up and understand. Everything has to be dumbed down to a certain degree.

9) The President should have made it clear from the beginning that the main focus of this bill is to make life better for Americans. All that blah blah blah about "bending the cost curve" and "controlling costs" only fed the public paranoia about rationing. (All he had to do was compare the public option to the assigned risk pool for auto insurance, and they would have gotten it.) Yes, in one of his speeches, he talked about how the bill would give everyone security, but when you're selling something, you need to stay on message. He's given us so many reasons why we should support this bill, I can't even remember them all - and I'm actually paying attention!

Good point.

10) Don't negotiate from the middle, damn it. Ask for the moon and stars, and work your way toward the middle, or risk people thinking you're a corporatist tool.

The Angry Independent said...

What this really comes down to is the fact that Progressives have very little presence in the national media. Without a strong media infrastructure, there is no real chance to compete in the message war with the Republican propaganda machine (which I warned was strong and was going to be fierce). Progressives are at a disadvantage by default when it comes to the tools and the hardware to get the message out. There is a whole list of things that Obama should have done to prepare for this fight...and he didn't do any of them. But keep in mind that if Obama had made all the proper preparations.... had enough surrogates, preempted the Republican lies, set up a quick response/debunker office....just like what we saw in the Presidential campaign, re-established the neighbor to neighbor strategy, and had a plan that he could market.... HE STILL would have been at a disadvantage. The Republican media machine is powerful.

Hell...if it weren't for the economic crisis, we would probably be having a very different discussion. We'd be typing about President McCain. He was well on his way to a win in Nov. of 2008. If not a McCain victory.... it would have at least been a nail-biter that could have gone either way, like what we saw in 2000 and 2004. It would have come down to a couple of States. Why? Because McCain was having some success in the media war....well at least up until his buddy George W presided over the near full collapse of the economy....and Armageddon. As the economy collapsed....so did McCain's campaign. All he could do was watch at that point.

What bugs me is that the Obama Admin. is late to adjust even when they see their ship sinking (and it has been sinking for weeks). They are several days late....sometimes weeks late...in responding to the propaganda. There seems to be no coherent strategy from the White House or Dems in Congress.

I told you all that he screwed up with his public focus on torture & by allowing the far left to define his agenda (which scared independents and energized Conservatives). Torture, Gay Marriage and other issues became the biggest focal points (partly by way of the media)...and he allowed that situation to exist for too long. He ended up taking his eye off the ball (which should have been fixing the economy, while constantly reminding Americans who got them into this mess). Instead...he went off the rails. This made him appear out of touch (talking about torture when Americans are struggling to put food on the table). This allowed Republicans to regroup.

Republicans had him beat on healthcare before he officially started to push it. He allowed them to define his own plan... WTH?