On Compromising

October 3, 2013

I thought a little graphic representation of the current Republican Congressional demands for Obama to “compromise” on his Affordable Care Act was in order.


[click to enlarge]

In 1993 the Clinton Administration tried mightily to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans. According to Wikipedia it:

required each US citizen and permanent resident alien to become enrolled in a qualified health plan and forbade their disenrollment until covered by another plan. It listed minimum coverages and maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses for each plan. It proposed the establishment of corporate “regional alliances” of health providers to be subject to a fee-for-service schedule. People below a certain set income level were to pay nothing. The act listed funding to be sent to the states for the administration of this plan, beginning at $13.5 billion in 1993 and reaching $38.3 billion in 2003.

The plan was not entirely lefty-liberal because it kept HMOs in business and in fact mandated employers to spend more money on them. Nevertheless, the plan failed and mightily.

The lefty-liberal position would be more akin to mandating everyone be covered but doing it through the single payer of the Federal government. Preferably with a lot of measures to cut out the profit margin and mandate a lot more efficiency. Remember that now. THAT is the starting point for the leftward position.

The right wing, you will recall, fought Medicare and Medicaid tooth and nail. The true right wing starting point* is that the Federal government should have no role in the health care of citizens whatever.

So even the Clinton attempt was a considerable compromise.

Along came Obama in 2008-2009 and he decided to take another run. Obviously, in the post-Clinton era, the landscape for what was possible to pass and how to pass it was not completely open. Since Obama came on board determined to change the politics of Washington and to seek consensus and compromise….his first offer was already compromised far to the rightward position.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act was introduced in Congress in October of 2009. It took until March 2010 for Obama to be able to sign the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) into law. In the mean time there was much jockeying, arguing and compromising in an attempt to get the right wing on board. It ended up with so many protections for the profit-based health care industry and so many potential uncrossable fee gaps for poor people that it is most assuredly a right-leaning compromise past the true middle of the full spectrum of the debate.

Now we come to the fall of 2013 and the Congressional Republicans temper tantrum over “compromise”. The anti-government party has refused to pass any appropriations for the new Fiscal Year, thereby shutting down the government. Their supposed reason has been (over the past several years there have been 40+ futile attempts in the House to repeal the ACA) that they wish to “fix” Obamacare. Now they are making it clear that they have no intention of fixing it, they simply want to dismantle it entirely.

Their current talking point is that Obama refuses to “compromise”.

Is it any wonder? They are not interested in “compromise” since we are already far past the middle point on this particular issue. The ACA is a step too far in their direction.

And now they have the chutzpah to demand further “compromise”.

*Yes, I realize the true right wing starting point is that health care should only be for the very wealthiest people, full stop. And that nobody is responsible for health care beyond the individual person and whatever rapacious corporate entity sees fit to provide them with it. Lets toss them a bone for this discussion.

22 Responses to “On Compromising”

  1. Elle Says:

    So here’s the thing. As a liberal, scientist, blah, labels etc, I am appropriately infuriated with Congress over this shutdown and inept handling of the ACA. I express my discontent with their lame ass ideas to them when necessary. I know my Reps voting records and I vote. But I’m sure they don’t read most of my letters and I want to do more. I’m trying to figure out what else I can do.

    I’m curious, if you’re willing to share, what you plan to do about it?


  2. eeke Says:

    It’s not just the ACA. Any nutjob party that holds the US hostage like this can do it over anything. If the senate (and Obama) caves on their demands, what’s next? “We won’t fund the government until you ‘compromise’ and prevent women from voting”? Certainly they want to take away any coverage for birth control. Gay marriage? Education? Fill in the blank for the rights that most of us can enjoy. I’m hoping that the only good that can come out of this is that every single one of those assholes is voted out of office.


  3. Grumble Says:

    Voted out of office? Dream on. The problem is that the shutdown plays very well in teabag congressional districts – and there are many, many more of these now than there were before because of gerrymandering.

    Which is why the answer to Elle’s question is: work at the local level to get these districts un-gerrymandered in 2020.


  4. Joe Says:

    Why would any politician vote to un-gerrymander?


  5. Grumble Says:

    Well, that’s the heart of the problem, Joe, isn’t it? What I actually meant was “gerrymander the other way,” which would mean Democrats re-taking control of state governments that they’ve lost. But ideally, congressional districts should always be a rational, objective shape, and never gerrymandered.

    I don’t know how you’d get politicians to ever agree to that, short of a new constitutional convention.


  6. Mikka Says:

    Un-gerrymandering congressional districts? Dream on. That system is self-sustaining. Nothing short of a supreme court intervention can shake that tree.

    The supreme court doing anything meaningful to ensure political representation proportional to population and not net worth? Dream on. With its current roster, nothing short of three selected justices assuming room temperature while Obama is in office can offer a chance at this.

    Obama actually naming supreme court justices that would do anything about gerrymandering? Dream on. He’s an expert at negotiating with himself, as the initial position on ACA showed.

    And the republicans allowing it? Dream on. If you think this is obstructionism, wait to see what the republicans do if they see the supreme court tilting towards the left.

    Repeat ad nauseam.


  7. sciencedude Says:

    How anyone who is not a millionaire, a billionaire, or a Jesus-freak can vote Refucklican anymore is mind-blowing. They have truly become a party of idiot-freaks. Refucklican control of the house is not just due to gerrymandering; it is due to a very feeble-minded and easily influenced electorate.
    Elle, the answer to your question is you could put a bullet in the head of each of the house tea-party idiots.


  8. Busy Says:

    I’m curious, if you’re willing to share, what you plan to do about it?

    Hit the Tea Party Reps where it hurts: donate to the DNC, massively. Can you make an effort and send $300 to the DNC today? If a million people do this, which is only 0.3% of the population, it would be enough for the Reps to climb down.

    I’m serious. Do this, and ask your colleagues to do the same even if they generally vote Republican. This is meant to send a message principally to the TPs.


  9. Green Fluorescent Postdoc Says:

    “How anyone who is not a millionaire, a billionaire, or a Jesus-freak can vote Refucklican anymore is mind-blowing.”

    I think you’ve massively under-estimated just how ill-informed and stupid large swaths of the population are.

    For example, there are a surprising number of people who place the blame for the government shut down solely on Obama. This isn’t the typical head up their own ass type of people who believe the parties share equal blame for this shut down. No, these people don’t even realize that the shut down is due to the legislative branch’s inability to pass a budget (let alone that it was because the House Republicans kept insisting on tacking on legislation to defund ACA).

    If people aren’t even aware of the actual facts in a wide spread national event such as this, I have little faith that they are able to accurately assess which political candidate would best serve their interests.


  10. Zuska Says:

    The gazillionaires have seen to it that large swaths of the population remain ill- and mis-informed, foster race baiting, spin class politics to make struggling middle class people think their interests are aligned with and served by the people above them who one day! they can hope to be! if only they hold course and vote rethuglican! In addition to: pouring tons of money into buying state legislatures, so that gerrymandering of congressional seats can be controlled, so that enough dumbfuck zebra queefs (quoting Jon Stewart) can be elected and blindly follow orders to disrupt and dismantle the government, so that rapacious capitalism can proceed unabated. If you got rid of those DFZQs by whatever means, some other would just take their places; they are just pawns and spokespersons for the Koch brothers and their ilk. The particular people in those positions don’t matter, it just matters that the positions be controlled and a person stashed in the position who himself can be controlled. Knock one down, another will pop up and take his place.

    The only thing I am not sure of, is when we are all making 50 cents an hour with no health insurance or vacation and working 12 hour days 7 days a week, and dying at age 40 from illness or earlier from industrial accidents…when we get to that endpoint so desired by the Koch brothers, of subsistence scrabble for all except the Extremely Filthy Rich, who will be left who can afford any of the stuff necessary to be sold to keep the wheels of the economy humming? Or are they smart enough to figure out how to create say, 0.1% filthy rich, 90% extreme poverty, 9.9% just enough above subsistence to buy stuff to dull the misery of life and keep the wheels of commerce turning?

    Fantasy: all the filthy rich will gather at Davos or some such for a Filthy Rich Conference and some horrible natural disaster precipitated by climate change due to their relentless polluting of the world will wipe them out. That’s a disaster flick I would totally go watch.


  11. Busy Says:

    From TE:

    Republicans are not conservative. They’re increasingly radical, decreasingly competent, and questionably sane.

    Consider this:
    A 40 year old American’s first presidential vote was 1992. In the intervening 22 years they’ve witnessed the GOP
    1. Toss out one of their own presidents (Bush 1)
    2. Shut down the government (1995-1996)
    3. Impeach a president over a BJ (1998)
    4. Allow a massive terrorist attack (2001)
    5. Launch two unfunded wars (2001 and 2003)
    6. Expand a massive unfunded entitlement (Medicare Part D)
    7. Preside over the largest recession in nearly a century (2008)
    8. Collectively freak out over enacting a healthcare plan originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation (2010)
    9. Attempt to extort a president through previously routine funding bills (2010, 2011, 2013)
    9. I could go on (filibusters, gun-control, war-mongering, “compromise as a 4-letter word” etc.)

    I realize several of these are over-generalizations, but the cumulative effect is pretty stark to someone my age. The sad thing is that those of us that are 40 and under have never known the GOP to be anything but wild-eyed reactionaries that change the rules when they aren’t winning. I don’t care for the Democrats, but they continue to get my vote because they at least appear to have SOME grasp of reality.


  12. Neuro-conservative Says:

    Uh, did anyone notice that sciencedude, in his otherwise highly articulate and persuasive post, appears to be advocating assassination of elected officials?


  13. Mikka Says:

    Yes we’ve noticed, N-c, and promptly ignored him. Please don’t feed the trolls.


  14. miko Says:

    I think what”s happened, though it’s not over yet, is that the Democrats are becoming the only political party in the US. It is primarily composed of people interested in governing and in solving problems, though there is a wide range of opinions on how best to do this and what our goals should be. Dems generally agree we should be a first world country.

    Then there is the modern GOP … a coalition of bigots, the stupid, the obscenely wealthy, the paranoid, and a vanishingly small group of “principled conservatives” whose views would have made my blood boil 20 years ago but who now just seem quaint, or have become conservative Democrats.

    I think 2 things happened: 1. The rise of the Christian right through an enormous and well-organized grass roots movement that started in the 70s with local school board elections, and 2. The realization of the wealthy blue-blood elite Republicans, who were being ideologically trounced by social progressives in the broader culture, that many of the things the Christian right would do–destroy public education, maintain social status quos, create a solid voting bloc of rural whites–would help them electorally in their fight against change, growth, and progress. Thus, they brought the nutjobs into the fold, and Lo! like some bible or HBO parable about pacts with the devil, it has been their undoing.

    My personal opinion is that unless the U.S. can push the Christian right back to the outer fringes of our politics, it will be our undoing. Not in any societal collapse sense, just in the sense of every aspiration we’ve ever had has a nation since our founding. I used to think they were hilarious and loved watching them destroy the GOP. But once they’ve eaten Republican party, they aren’t going to go away, even if it means Democratic ascendancy in electoral politics for a while.


  15. Grumble Says:

    It’s not the Christian right. It’s the significant swath of the electorate that doesn’t want to pay taxes, and therefore believes that government is incapable of providing solutions. That attitude might be common among the Jesus freaks, but the teabag movement isn’t just a story of religious nuts driving a political movement.


  16. sciencedude Says:

    “Uh, did anyone notice that sciencedude, in his otherwise highly articulate and persuasive post, appears to be advocating assassination of elected officials?”

    Chill out NC. I was not serious about that, though I certainly would not shed any tears if it happened. In any case, given how vacuous Tea party heads are, that is probably the one place they could take a bullet without harm.


  17. sciencedude Says:

    Mikka, what is your definition of a troll?


  18. Mikka Says:

    Troll: A poster, or a post, that deliberately lowers the tone of the conversation through provocation and outrageous statements. Think Jim Watson.

    You have to admit that the second paragraph of your post was at least trollish. I agree with the message of the first paragraph (although I think using terms like “rethuglican”, “refucklican”, “libtard” etc is childish and also a bit trollish).


  19. DrugMonkey Says:

    Nobody would ever be deliberately provocative around this blog.


  20. Grumble Says:

    For anyone interested in understanding where the tea party movement really comes from, check out this piece by Michael Lind.

    Religion plays a role, but it’s mentioned only in passing in this article. It’s fundamentally an anti-federal government movement that is due to wealthy southerners wanting to (a) not pay taxes and (b) keep the people who work for them poor, as that attracts economic investment that benefits them.

    All very enlightening. Here’s an excerpt that applies especially to readers of this blog:

    “The third misconception is that the Newest Right is irrational. The American center-left, whose white social base is among highly-educated, credentialed individuals like professors and professionals, repeatedly has committed political suicide by assuming that anyone who disagrees with its views is an ignorant “Neanderthal.” Progressive snobs to the contrary, the leaders of the Newest Right, including Harvard-educated Ted Cruz, like the leaders of any successful political movement, tend to be highly educated and well-off. The self-described members of the Tea Party tend to be more affluent and educated than the general public.”


  21. chall Says:

    Grumble: thanks for that link. I would say though that the people I’ve encountered in west TN who are tea party people are half-half. Half are rich and “well off”, educated and very aware of what they ‘really’ want. And these could manage well on their own (private stuff all around and an intense dislike against anything that says ‘help others with money’).

    The other half, which is below middleclass/not gone to university (maybe BS)/bluecollor workers are on the wagon of “I hate politicians and they shouldn’t get our money and we need to cut government down completely and I won’t get any money anyway so no one should get my money either”. Neither of these groups have said much to me about religion [unless you open the ‘abortion’/women’s right box because then all of a sudden the ‘it’s not right and against the Bible’ speech comes up. TBH, I’ve heard it more often than not as an argument to keep other arguments from coming forward. you don’t have to say anything else but ‘it’s says in the Bible’.]

    As for the agenda of the Tea Party [Newest Right] I would recommend taking a peak that “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream” a documentary that can be seen for free online (just google it). If nothing else, it’s very clear on the “de-unionize the north” that we saw about a year ago and how ‘even’ it really is to have regular workers up against multi-billionaires and their companies, never mind even the politicians…. They’re not stupid at all. But very scary.


  22. drugmonkey Says:

    exactly chall. this is the general Republican strategy for 30+ years and not just the Teabaggers.

    The extremely rich and monied elite have figured out ways to get certain segments of the demonstrably not-elite to vote against their own interests and in favor of the interests of the exceptionally well-off. The elite have leveraged the trick of putting $5 in their right pocket while pulling $50 from their left pocket to great advantage. Since the elite are few and the less-elite are many, is it any wonder that the lefty-libby progressives (elite and otherwise) blame the fuck out of TrailerParkRepublican voters? They could right this ship in a hurry if they would just pull their collective voting-bloc head out of their racist asses.

    Sure, the TPRs are being hoodwinked by great political marketing but the bottom line is that this is not rocket science and ultimately people choose to let themselves be fooled.


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