Archive for the ‘Obama’s Presidency’ Category

The End of “an End of an Era”

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on September 3rd, 2009

As I watched Ted Kennedy’s funeral and listened to the coverage of his life and death last week, I heard the phrase “the end of an era” so many times, it convinced me that people should stop using the term “the end of an era.” What does an “era” mean? According to the Oxford English dictionary, an “era” is defined as “a system of chronology reckoning from a noteworthy event.” Perhaps the commentators mean their observation to refer to the era beginning with the birth of Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s children. True, a genertion of Kennedy brothers had passed away now, ending the era of that generation of the Kennedy brothers. True, many of us (including myself, born the year that Ted Kennedy entered the Senate) cannot remember a time when Ted Kennedy was not in the Senate. True, thousands of liberals in America can no longer count on Senator Ted Kennedy to always speak for us in the Senate, and never apologize for being liberal. But what is the point of calling this an “era?’ What more do we learn from this phraseology?

Perhaps those who called Ted Kennedy’s death “the end of an era” intend announce the end of liberalism in America that was most prevalent in the 1960s but lingered until Ted Kennedy’s death. If thatmpphpH7AOUT[1]t is the case, then I must, most emphatically, object, not only to the phrasing but to the sentiment behind the phrase. There remains a strong progressive tradition in the Democratic party, shared by many members of he general public who dop not affiliate themselves with that party. The progressive tradition was most recently re-affirmed by the election of President Obama (with Ted Kennedy’s crucial support) and his numerous Demcratic colleagues in Congress. It is reaffirmed in the polls that show that despite months of the healthcare industry spending over a million dollars a day to fight health care reform, the American public still strongly supports it, and still demands a change to our health care system. So, let’s put an end to this talk about “the end of an era” and concentrate on what we need now. There’s never an end of the era of need for the poor and middle class folks in this country who demand health care reform.

President Obama’s Mysterious Strategy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 21st, 2009

Try, as I may, it’s difficult figuring out President Obama’s approach to the health care battle. He continues to praise Senator Grassley’s attTelevangelists Financesempt at “bipartisanship” when the “good” Senator keeps making outrageous remarks suggesting otherwise.  The latest in a round of comments is his suggestion (requirement?) that health care reform should receive at least 80 votes in the Senate.  Thank about it. That’s 20 Republicans. Name one certain Republican vote. What’s going on? Does the President watch television? Has he heard Grassley’s “death panel” remarks? Is there a secret agreement between the President and the Senator that Grassley will make negative comments designed to assure his reelection, but vote for the bill anyway? That’s not a likely strategy for his reelection or the bill. So just what is going go? Supporters of the public option need to know. Please Mr. President talk to us. The point is President Obama introduced the idea of a public option to many of us, explained its importance in significantly reducing costs, and arguing for its effectiveness in offering Americans a choice. He, above anyone else, cannot be the one to waver or capitulate. Mr. President you must come out forcefully for the public option now. Your transformative, defining moment as a president is at your door step.  Take the step boldly.

Hank Chambers’ “President Obama and Health Care in Four Acts” for the Pulitizer Prize in Political Drama

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 20th, 2009

I am hoping, beyond hope perhaps, that my co-blogger, Hank Chambers, is right about how President Obama’s health care plan will play out. Among other important elements, President Obama must keep his original promise to include a public option which, among other things, is necessary to contain costs. Bravo, Hank. Author!

President Obama and Health Care in Four Acts

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on August 19th, 2009

President Obama will get the health care reform he wants.  If you want to know what it will look like, look at the principles he laid out at the start of the process.  We have seen this show before and I suspect I know how it will end.  The typical plot has four parts.  In Act 1, Obama sets out a principle.  In Act 2, critics attack him and his principle while supporters fret about whether he is doing the right thing.  In Act 3, when it appears as though the plan is about to fail, Obama gets to work and miraculous (or mundane) things occur.  The people rise up and demand that Obama’s principles win out or Democratic lawmakers decide that Obama’s plan is worth fighting for or Obama wades into the fight directly.  In Act 4, Obama wins and the result looks remarkably like what he proposed from the start.

We saw this in the campaign – he wanted to win some Southern states (unthinkable) and a broad mandate and did.  We saw this on the stimulus bill – he wanted $775 B and got $767 B.  We saw this on Sotomayor – shtmpphprXo1Fv[1]e was the top candidate from the start and remained so even after we were treated to a quasi-public display of him interviewing other people.   All President Obama needs is time for Act 3 to play out as he wants, with supporters of his principles standing up and showing that they are willing to fight.  Act 3 is happening now.   When Obama put public option on the table or chopping block, that was him getting to work.  He made it clear that it is time for supporters to stand up and be counted.  I suspect that they will demand a public option and many of the other suggestions found in President Obama’s original list of principles.  President Obama will return to his list of principles and may push them directly.  At that time Republicans will begin to claim that President Obama is going to ram his health care reform down their throats.  It is also the time when President Obama will put the Republicans, and maybe some Blue Dogs, in a corner and ask them if they really want to kill health care reform when the people have demanded it.  The safe Republicans may take an ideological stand, but the Blue Dogs will be reminded that many of their constituents could use a bit of health care reform.  Either we get Act 4 and the president takes a bow or we get midterm elections dominated by health care reform.

Is it Too Late for Obama to Come to His Senses?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 18th, 2009

A health care plan without a public option will cover more people–as any plan should–but will do nothing to control the costs of health.  PretmpphpzYSHJ4[1]sident Obama warned against the exploding health care costs and promised to include a public option in any plan he signed, but now seems ready to break that promise also. I continue to admire the new president. But admiration won’t suffice any longer. Broken promises about matter as critical, critical in general, but more importantly, critical according to the President, are unacceptable. I don’t understand his strategy and expect and encourage a progressive rebellion. It’s just unfathomable why when controlling the government, even with the problem of conservative Democrats, the President should not insist on the public option, the only effective means of controlling costs, costs that will continue to cripple the economy. Who is advising the President and what are the reasons for capitulating to the Republicans and the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats”? I implore the President to rethink this issue and be prepared to fight for a public option in September. The alternative is too ill-defined with no obvious reason to believe in its efficacy. Please Mr. President heed the wise advice of Senators Rockefeller and Feingold and fight for the public option.

Please Mr. President: Keep your Word this Time!

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 17th, 2009

I have never been as enthusiastic in supporting a president ever before in my life. I admire President Obama as tmpphpHLJ4VN[1]a man and as a president.  He is intelligent, knowledgeable, affable, and possesses a magnetic personality. If he lacks anything, it’s fortitude. The president has promised the American people “that creating a nonprofit, government-sponsored insurance plan — competing alongside private insurers — would provide a lower-cost alternative for consumers and keep the industry ‘”honest.'” I believed this promise and independently believe the public option, though it does have defaults, is essential to significant health insurance reform. Please, Mr. Present, do not renege on this promise. Fortunately or not, wisely or not, you must fear President George H. W. Bush’s “read my lips.” Reconsider and fight for the public option.

The Fight for Obama Care (is lost?)

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 17th, 2009

My favorite president needs to better execute two strategies if his health care plan is to avoid crashing and burning: (1) He must take time to explain and defend the health care solutions in his “plan” AmtmpphpOLJntC[1]ericans care most about and explain the misinformation about them simply and crisply.  For example, (a) President Obama needs to explain why Americans will be able to choose their physicians. He says we will, but his critics deny it.  Who’s right?  President Obama needs to explain, or (b) How will they be able to keep their current health insurance. He says, we will, but his critics deny it. Who’s right?  President Obama needs to explain. (2) Mr. nice guy must also take a crash course in arm twisting Democrats, especially the so-called “Blue Dog” democrats like Senator Conrad. He must explain that reaping the advantages of being part of the majority party has certain responsibilities, one of which must be backing the leader of the Party’s most pressing domestic program. The gloves must come off now. Word has it that President Obama once said he’s ready to accept that passing adequate health reform might cost him a second term.  That’s admirable and a profile in courage that he and his supporters should be prepared to accept. Finally, the public option stands between a real health care plan and the semblance of one. The clock is ticking and Mr. Obama must awake from his natural, polite slumbers and be ready to engage in honest battle to achieve the most important goal of his presidency.

Wishful thinking. Sunday night, the New York Times reported that the White House is ready to drop the public option. For many of us that means at best a cosmetic bill.  Even with a public option, the bill was milk toast, but Mr. Obama doesn’t have the fortitude to fight for even that. This choice means the American people lose, but it also means Mr. Obama loses any chance of becoming a “transformative” president. He will be, at best, just another politician.  The disappointment in this betrayal is incalculable.

The New Thuggery in the Health Care Debate

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 13th, 2009

Word has it that orchestrated groups of Americans fill Town halls not to discuss, not even passionately to discuss, the Obama health care bill, but to prevent discussing it. Is it wrong to oppose health care in a democratic society? Obviously not! Is it wrong to oppose discussing health care reform? No! But it is wrong to engage in conduct that prevents others from civilly discussing such reform.  Opposition to civil discussion in a democratic society is anti-democratic pure and simple.  Who is to blame? The culprits are those who are orchestrating the specific goal of engaging in obstructionist tactics that prevents these town hall meetings from being an exchange of views on health care and those who feed them distortions and lies about the health care bills. Who are these undemocratic folks? I don’t know for sure, but whoever stands aside and fails to condemn such barbarism are equally as undemocratic as those who engage in the orchestration in the first place.

Two culprits can be identified: Newt Gingrich and Charles Grassley. While acknowledging that none of the five congressional btmpphpUhE7OF[1]ills contains an end of life “death panel” requirement, former speaker Newt Gingrich warned that “[c]ommunal standards historically is [sic] a very dangerous concept.” Presumably, he means that though the death panel language is not in the bill, its application through communal standards could in the future construct such a provision.  After all, “You are asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there are clearly people in American who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.” Well, I suppose so, but something similar is true of every single provision in every law ever passed in the United States. Those same people can introduce euthanasia into our present Medicare system.  To reject legislation because it must be applied through communal standards is simply to reject democracy outright.  If the community makes such an egregious mistake, then we’ll all band together legislatively to fix it by explicitly rejecting such applications. If we cannot do so because the majority embraces such communal standards, then we’re stuck just as we are in every case where the majority has abuse a piece of legislation. Fear of abuse cannot be reason for endorsing what otherwise is a perfectly respectable piece of legislation without abandoning democracy entirely.  And even in this case, our job as democrats, small “d,” is through politics to become a new majority and eliminate the heinous provision. Gingrich should know better.  Either he does, but is duplicitous, or he doesn’t and needs to rethink his quite unsupportable position. Chuck Grassley’s misconduct is much simpler. He simply lied about whether such a provision is in the bill, and should apologize to his constituents for doing so. Indeed, The Senate should censure Senator Grassley and my favorite president should retract the favorable remarks he made earlier this week about this duplicitous “deather.”

The President’s Limited Role in Health Care

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on August 5th, 2009

One of the odder arguments in the health care debate is that President Obama is having trouble pushing his health care reform agenda through because he has provided general talking points ontmpphpXCWxfS[1] the legislation rather than a draft bill.  The argument is odd for two reasons.  The first reason is that it suggests that the president would be more successful if he had a specific plan to sell.  This argument ignores the possibility that the congressional forces aligned against health care reform would prefer to have a specific plan to fight rather than a general set of reasonable principles.  Picking apart draft legislation and vowing to vote against it both because it is not perfect and because it is the president’s legislation is a perfect way to delay reform and kill the eventual legislation.  This does not mean that the president will win with his strategy.  However, it does put the onus on Congress to either get him a bill on an issue that the American public has suggested it wants fixed or implicitly admit that Congress cannot get the job done.  The second reason the argument is odd is that providing a list of policies and priorities is the type of limited control a chief executive ought to have over legislation.  The president can veto legislation, but must execute the laws that legislators pass and that he signs.  President Obama’s outline for health care reform incorporates items that need to be in the legislation if it is to avoid a presidential veto.  In addition, his outline also suggets his priorities in executing any legislation that may become law.  This is also reasonable because execution is his area of constitutional responsibility.  These twin functions of his list arguably mark the limit of the president’s constitutional responsibility.  The irony in the argument that President Obama ought to draft legislation and send it to Congress is that he is not the legislator-in-chief and arguably would overstep his proper role in doing so.  This is not to say that it would be improper for him to draft legislation.  Rather, it is to say that Congress would have every legitimate reason to ignore any such draft legislation.

Gates, Crowley Suprise! Or Was it Obama’s Surprise?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on July 31st, 2009

After the beer “summit” Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley have agreed to more conversations about the issues that have drawn them together.  Is there a documentary is the works? Even if not, this surprise respite–assuredly orchrestrated by the pretmpphpA5pbwQ[1]sident–was just what the nation needed. Two men, thrown into racial conflict, decide to engage in deliberative conversationalism about the conflict and what it means for the nation’s nation future. The specific facts are still not clearly known, and it’s difficult, at least for me, to dispell the notion that an arrest could have easily been avoided even if Professor Gates acted indignantly, and I’m incredulous that the arrest would have occurred at all had Professor Gates been white and Sgt. Crowley been white, but perhaps these points should be left to the two men in their subsequent conversations. Race, racial profiling. racism still plagues this nation. Despite how horrid the term “teachable moment” is, this is just the sort of event that can begin a national dialogue where winning is not the point. Reconciliation is.