Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obama's A Wimp, Even to a Yellow Dog Dem Like Me

I am a 76-year-old yellow dog Democrat, with a picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt still prominently displayed in my bedroom. And yes, I would likely vote for a yellow dog if the dog were running on the Democratic ticket against any of today's Republicans. To me, the current crop of Republicans represent, not simply the party of no, but the party of death, as shown in their unanimous opposition to health care reform.

They also represent the party of economic depression, as they did in the 1930s, as evidenced today by their opposition to the original economic stimulus, and additional, much-needed economic pump priming. Furthermore, their opposition to virtually anything President Obama proposes shows that they have put their selfish political fortunes way ahead of the good of the country. It is entirely accurate to say that Republicans hate America. And for this they should be severely punished.

Given my feelings, you may wonder why I am not more enthusiastic about the president one year into his term. After all, isn't he on the brink of a historic health reform? One that will bring necessary care to millions more people, that will end insurance companies' refusal to insure people with pre-existing conditions and halt caps on coverage?

Yes, if health reform becomes law I will applaud. But, frankly, most of my enthusiasm has long since fizzled out. I feel like I'm holding a balloon that has burst. Maybe it's because the president made devil's bargains with big pharma and other major "stakeholders," (not, of course, including the public). Pharma's deal is representative. The drug companies promised Obama $80 billion in lower drug costs over 10 years. Since they earn $300 billion in profits EVERY year, that wasn't much of a bargain. Then, to add insult to injury, they raised prices 10 per cent. And stopped reimportation of drugs from Canada. Other "stakeholders" made similar good deals for themselves. The insurance companies, not satisfied with the prospect of millions of new customers, many subsidized by taxpayers, managed to retain their anti-trust exemption, among other advantages. As for other major "stakeholders," I find doctors and hospitals less venal and more deserving.

I have been on Medicare for more than 10 years, a wonderful system. Ideally, health insurance reform would have meant Medicare for everybody. That would have been great, but I recognize that it never was feasible, given the ownership of our government by big business.

Until Obama talked it up, I'd never heard of the public option. He managed to convince me of its importance, assuring me as late as last July 18 that since there is little competition in the health insurance business, a public option was necessary to provide more "to keep the insurance companies honest." He said he wouldn't sign any bill that didn't include it. But hardly had Obama pledged himself to the public option than he began backing away from it, so we're not going to have one. Nor a buy-in to Medicare for people 55 and over, as was briefly proposed as a substitute.

On another crucial matter, a big new program to provide jobs and bring down our 10 per cent unemployment, Obama has been lackadaisical. Health reform has put job creation in the background. After health care reform is passed, if it is, Obama will finally turn his attention to this matter, which never should have been delayed. Nor should a related economic matter, the reregulation of Wall Street. One of my favorite bloggers, Kevin Drum, has an article in Mother Jones that says, in effect, that the chances for serious, necessary reregulation are already nil, because the presidency and both parties in Congress are owned lock and stock by Wall Street, which far outdoes every other industry in financing elections, and has little trouble getting what it pays for. So we can look forward to more bubbles and more Bush-like Depressions. Only Obama may be responsible for the next one. As for other matters, I still don't see an end to our two endless wars, or to Guantanamo, rendition or warrantless wiretapping.

As you can tell, after a year of Obama, I'm for him, but not with any real enthusiasm. Nice fella. Good talker. But I'm afraid he's deserving of a descriptive word once applied to the first George Bush. Obama is a wimp. I was always concerned about his lack of experience, and the fact that he was almost entirely untested. I'd have preferred Hillary. She may not have won the Nobel Prize, but she knew from bitter experience who the political enemy was and how to fight them.

I recognize that election of a Republican Congress and/or president would be a total disaster for this country. I will certainly continue to vote for Obama and other Democrats, but I doubt I'll contribute to or work for any. I hope Obama will get through as much of his program as possible this year. Because next year I doubt he'll have the sixty votes in the Senate necessary even to have a chance of legislative success. Mr. President, Good Night and Good Luck.

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