File under, “Ouch”. And then visit Milt Priggee:
If the above makes no sense, just skip it. There is no law that says everything must make sense to you.
And now the show begins.
I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.
Today, The New York Times‘ Adam Nagourney reports that Mr. Frum has been “forced out” of his fellowship at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Frum said he was taken out to lunch by the president of the organization, Arthur C. Brooks. He said Mr. Brooks told him the institute valued a diversity of opinion, and welcomed that one of its scholars had become such a high-profile critic of Republican legislative leaders. Mr. Frum, who has been with the institute since 2003, said that he was asked if he would considering being associated with the institute on a nonsalaried basis.
Mr. Frum declined.
“Does it have anything to do with what would be the most obvious explanation of what happened?” he said in an interview after his lunch. “I don’t know. That’s not what they say.”
Asked if he believed that explanation, Mr. Frum responded, “I’m not going to say that they’re not telling the truth.”
Mr. Brooks, however, praised Frum as “an original thinker and friend to many at A.E.I.”. He also suggested that Frum chose to leave of his own free will, and had not been forced out. “We are pleased,” said Mr. Brooks, “to have welcomed him as a colleague for seven years, and his decision to leave in no way diminishes our respect for him.”
Only vague first impressions; it’s difficult to get any real perspective while so much dust and smoke hangs in the air after the conflagration.
Paul Krugman, before the vote:
For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. It wouldn’t transform our health care system; in fact, Americans whose jobs come with health coverage would see little effect. But it would make a huge difference to the less fortunate among us, even as it would do more to control costs than anything we’ve done before.
This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Republican David Frum on the political fallout:
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.
Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.
Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.
Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.
No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?