The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Washington

Public Option is bipartisan – everywhere but Congress

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{{w|Chuck Grassley}}, U.S. Senator from Iowa.

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Fivethirtyeight.com observes that over 50% of Republicans and 74% of Americans overall favor a strong public insurance option.  Then, an obvious conclusion: The public option has strong bipartisan support.

1/2 of Republicans and 3/4 of all Americans.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

But in the Congress, dogmatic opinions prevent such unity.

So here’s an irony:  America is in pretty good agreement.  But we can’t get our Congress to go along with us.

Matter of fact, there are threats of removing that which we want in order to gain the approval of Congressional holdouts—most notably, Iowa’s Senator Grassley (who, like most of the holdouts, is among the top recipients of health care industry contributions—Mr. Grassley is fifth among Senators).

Should we allow Congress to deny what the people overwhelmingly desire in order to please industry-funded Senators?

Write ’em.

clipped from www.fivethirtyeight.com
the two most credible surveyors of public opinion on this subject, the Kaiser Family Foundation and CBS/New York Times, have both found that at least half of self-identified Republicans favor a well-described public option.

So the question must be asked: if Barack Obama wants to conduct a bipartisan approach to universal health care, what does that mean in terms of the public option? Killing or watering down the public option in order to (maybe) attract the support of Sen. Chuck Grassley, and not much of anybody else in the congressional Republican ranks? Or maintaining it to appeal to rank-and-file Republicans, who favor it despite the views of their “leaders” and the polarized atmosphere in Washington?
ultimately, “bipartisanship” on health care may actually mean looking past congressional Republicans and pitting them against their own supporters across the country, particularly on the public option.
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Robt Reich: What you can do

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Excellent advice!
clipped from tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com

“What Can I Do?”

Someone recently approached me … asking “what can I do?” […]
I soon realized the question was … what can I do about the way things are going in Washington?
People who voted for Barack Obama tend to fall into one of two camps: Trusters … and cynics […]
In my view, both positions are wrong. A new president — even one as talented and well-motivated as Obama — can’t get a thing done in Washington unless the public is actively behind him.
As FDR said … “Maam, I want to do those things, but you must make me.”
We must make Obama do the right things. Email, write, and phone the White House. Do the same with your members of Congress. Round up others to do so. Also: Find friends and family members in red states who agree with you, and get them fired up to do the same. For example, if you happen to have a good friend or family member in Montana, you might ask him or her to write Max Baucus and tell him they want a public option included in any healthcare bill.
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Just to the right of these words, under the heading “Contact” are links that will take you to your Members of Congress and the President. Go for it.

Yes, we can.

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Obama’s quiet gains against poverty

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Apparently, progress being made against poverty may prove to be the greatest gains in 40 years.
clipped from www.thenation.com

At a the forum “Obama at 100: A Progress Report from The Nation” held on April 21, 2009 Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change, lauded the early progress the Obama administration has made in reversing forty years of neglect for the poor.

While Bhargava, an editorial board member at The Nation, made clear that the devastating scope of the recession has mitigated the impact of the reforms, he concluded that, “Boy, it is a new day in Washington.”

Corbin Hiar

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That’s “the least, first.” And I believe it is what government exists to do.

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Name 10 things the government does well

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A dear friend of mine left a challenge in a comment.  Here ’tis:

Other than the military, can you name 10 things that the government has done really well, better than the private sector?

It’s an important question, for skepticism toward all government (rather than reform of bad government) is not only common, but at the root of a couple of major political outlooks.  And because it’s important, it seemed worth a post of its own.

Here’s my quick response. Maybe you can do better:

You betcha. Off the top of my head, I’ll give you twenty, most of which are under-funded for the work they do:

  1. The FAA. Crashes are a rarity here, thanks to equipment safety tests and massively successful air flight controlling.
  2. Medicaid: private sector insurance companies make money by ditching their customers when they get very sick. Medicaid picks up the castoffs.
  3. Social Security: What if Mr. Bush had succeeded in privatizing SS before the markets crashed? Can you imagine how many old people would be working at WalMart, since their SS would have been cut in half? And did you know that before SS, thousands of older Americans simply starved to death?
  4. SCHIP: Healthcare insurance for children who would not otherwise have it – enormously preventive of school absence, long-term illness, loss of physical and mental development
  5. Read the rest of this entry »

Why bombing Iran won’t work

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And a few things that just might.

Tehran
Tehran – Image via Wikipedia

“You can’t bomb knowledge,” said Robert Litwak, Director of the Division of International Security Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars […]

[B]ombing … Iran’s nuclear sites will not deter future technological developments […]

US military action … would only trigger major responses worldwide, … a worsening of the fragile state of Iraq and “a rally around the flag effect in Iran.”

Washington will need to recognize that “what is politically serious in Washington is politically insignificant in Tehran.” What the US has previously viewed as a big step toward normalization, such as allowing the importation of pistachios and carpets, has little weight in Iran […]

Pres. Obama and other political figures have not recognized the need to use sensitive language when dealing with Iran. Iran has expressed its disdain for phrases such as “carrots and sticks,” that the US has repeatedly used […] [T]his mistranslates to say that the US plans to deal with Iran as a donkey, either reward it with carrots or beat it into submission. “This will backfire on us,” … stated Robin Wright, journalist, author and public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Clipped from niacouncil.org

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Written by Monte

March 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm

NYT: ‘Taking on critics, Obama sets aside talk of unity’

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I never thought I’d feel good about “set[ting] aside talk of unity,” but this is hopeful.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Three weeks into his tenure, Mr. Obama acknowledged that his effort to change the political climate in Washington had yielded little. He made clear that he had all but given up hope of securing a bipartisan consensus behind his $800 billion economic recovery package, arguing that the urgency of the economic crisis had at least for now outweighed the need for unity.
“I’m happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans,” he said at the Monday night news conference. “What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested and they have failed. And that’s part of what the election in November was all about.”
“It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they presided over a doubling of the national debt,”
“I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.”
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White House Press Se...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This could be called a “reality check” tour.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, decried what he called a “myopic viewpoint in Washington,” disconnected from the troubles of the country. “…there’s a whole different conversation in Washington than there is out here,” said David Axelrod… “If I had listened to the conversation in Washington during the campaign for president, I would have jumped off a building about a year and a half ago.”

There comes a time when obstructionism simply has to be out-voted. As the saying goes, “You can lead horses to water, but you can’t make ’em drink.”  You sure can’t let them keep others thirsty.

Follow the Times link for the whole story.


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Written by Monte

February 10, 2009 at 10:37 am