Temporarily Not Part Of The Problem

« December 2009 »

Memo to the audience: HERE'S WHAT I'D DO.

I, like most other liberals with a space to put words out on the Internet, have been wrestling with the Democrat Problem in earnest for a few weeks now. The health care bill is the main cause, but I can't think of a damn thing from the past year that hasn't contributed to the general feeling of malaise.

But it's easy to complain. So I'm going to do something I almost never do - provide solutions. Or at least paint a general picture of what Governing With Balls looks like from the left side of the spectrum. I don't have a solution to the current health care bill, and I'm not going to offer one, because I'll be damned if I'm going to take part in the general hair-shirt bullshit occupying the lefty blogs these days. The shitty bill is either marginally better or marginally worse than no bill, but either way the key word is "marginally".

I do know one thing about health care, though. The only way for average middle-class people with average middle-class insurance policies to get decent coverage and service out of the health care industry is to be on television. Denied 'cause you're kid's too fat? Go on local news, and magically, the kid's not too fat anymore. Denied 'cause your kid's too thin? Same solution.

Fun fact - if you're a man in Colorado, every health insurance company in the state can, and will, turn you down if your wife is pregnant. Now, if we could count on pro-life wingnuts to be even the slightest bit consistent in their worldview, we could sic them on the insurance companies and happily munch popcorn while we watch the carnage. Barring that, though, if I were running things, I'd start a new initiative with a fancy name like the Sunshine Project or something.

I'd buy up ad time on all the major networks and cable channels, using intermediaries if necessary, and I'd run 30 second spots featuring people actively being screwed by health insurance companies. As many different people as I could find with catchy, easy to understand stories that expose the weaknesses in the system. No striking deals with pharmaceutical companies. No getting buy-in from the insurance industry. The government is here to stop them from fucking people over.

And the way to make that happen? Scorched-earth zero-tolerance party policy on procedural votes. Don't tell me there's no leverage. There's all kinds of leverage. Vote your conscience on the bill itself, but vote with your caucus on procedure or vengeance will be swift and brutal.

When it comes to financial reform, though, I'd take a different tack. Different circumstances call for different techniques. The way to deal with the banks is to use a time-honored technique banks know very well. Negotiate a set of reasonable terms that are in the bank's best interests. Then, once they've agreed to them, seize on the first flimsy excuse you can find to fuck them, and hard.

You're going to sit there and tell me that if Obama caught Bank of America on a technicality, and used that technicality to impose fines, taxes, and legal restrictions on their actions, and sold it as doing to BoA what BoA's been doing to you on your checking account and credit card for decades, he wouldn't be cheered from coast to coast? Ironic populism! Gander sauce for everyone! If you say you're not there to help fat-cat bankers, DON'T HELP FAT-CAT BANKERS.

People didn't elect Obama and the Democrats because they wanted a new kind of politics. They elected Obama and the Democrats because they wanted to see the old kind of politics used to shove things in the other direction. That means never admitting you're wrong, never giving the other side an even break, and making damn sure that anyone who's on your side is on your side when it counts, and not stabbing you in the back so that they can use your corpse as a step-stool.

Now, even if Obama's priorities are wildly different from mine, and I suspect they may well be, he's still not governing with balls to get there. He's either incompetent, or pulling some Machiavellian bullshit playing the left against the center-right for his own benefit. And either way, it's bad for my blood pressure.