Yes He (Still) Can: Obama got his mojo back through health care

| Sunday, March 21st, 2010 | 39 Comments »

Girl with posterIt’s time for the detractors and tea partiers and general naysayers to take a deep breath, pack up their signs and book their one-ways home.  Health care reform passed tonight in what even Fox News concedes is a victory for President Barack Obama.  The bill passed 219-212 with Republicans stamping their little feet all the way.  The bill is now headed to Obama to be signed into law and is what CNN calls, “the most sweeping American social legislation in more than four decades”.  The path for progress has finally been cleared and Obama has passed the biggest test of his presidency.

Victory had been far from clear.  In January, when Republican candidate Scott Brown won the senate seat held previously by the late Ted Kennedy, opponents of health care reform danced in the streets because Democrats had lost their filibuster-proof 60-seat majority that they had been counting on to pass the health care reform legislation.  In addition to this setback, Democrats were severely divided on the details of legislation being shaped and wallowed in analysis-paralysis.  On top of that, conservative spin masters were doing their level best to introduce wild misinformation Sarah-Palin-style about supposed “death panels” afforded by the new legislation and Communist-style takeovers of American health care.  The air was thick with the fear-mongering babble of conservative detractors that believed that if they could repeat the same lies often enough, people would believe it and progress would be halted.  Not so.

Truly herculean efforts by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other Democratic powerhouses, led by a newly-confident Obama, stood up for what they knew was right.  They fought harder than many thought they were capable of fighting.  Obama first postponed and then canceled his trip to Asia and Australia as the end drew closer and closer.  Those that had felt Obama had lost some of his umph were either delighted or disgusted when he made campaign-style speeches to huge crowds as late as Friday, March 19 when he addressed an enormously supportive student crowd at George Mason University, VA.  Yesterday he gave the most personal, direct and soul-baring speech of his presidency to House Democrats.  The crux of his argument was a quote from Lincoln, “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”  Obama spoke to Democrats, knowing full well that he was asking many of them to risk their careers.  In doing so, he asked them to dig deep and think about why they chose public service in the first place: “Something inspired you to get involved, and something inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican… somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, ‘I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own.’ ”

We hadn’t seen this Obama in a while but what Obama proved tonight is that he could do more than win the most significant election in a generation; he could pull off one of the greatest comebacks of recent political history and truly grab the reins of leadership with both hands.  As both friend and foe predicted, Obama’s success as a leader hinged on his ability to deliver on health care.  The Republicans knew this and fought accordingly.  But in the end, it was Obama that won.  As he said tonight: “We rose above the weight of our politics. … We are still a people capable of doing big things.”  And this is a president who is still capable of doing great things.

We’ll end on how Slate sums up the closing acts of the circus that was the House debate today:

“Minority Leader John Boehner used his time to deride the process that led to the bill’s passage. ‘Can you say it was done out in the open?’ he asked. His rhetorical device at times backfired. ‘Do you really believe that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it?’ ‘Yes!’ shouted Democrats. Boehner fired back, ‘You can’t!’ ‘Yes we can!’ yelled Democrats.

When the vote tally reached 216, a cheer went up stage right. Democrats hugged and kissed. Republicans stood with crossed arms. It didn’t take long for Democrats to settle on their victory chant: ‘Yes we can!’ ”

Welcome to a new day.

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Bjorn Karlman


39 Comments

  1. tristan says:

    timing couldn’t be better. now dems can shift their attention to jobs creation–a much more popular platform to stand on–in time for the next round of elections.

  2. Andrey says:

    I don’t think many of the people realize what $870 ++++ billion is, and where it’s going to come from. Let me introduce you to the realities of today.

    1) US debt/GDP ration is almost 90%. By the tile Obama leaves it will be over a 100%

    2) The only thing that saves dollar from going Zimbabwe on us is the fact that Oil producers still used to trade in it. At this point, it faces a tremendous inflation pressure if the Fed fails to raise the interest rates (which they won’t). So, even with the oil support we see the stimulus inflation starting to make its way down to us.

    3) The SS/Medicare “funds” are filled with treasuries IOUs. There’s no longer a fund to borrow from. There’s no additional tax revenues to pay for this enormous health care program.

    As a result, we are facing a destruction of the dollar, and consequently very terrible scenario in the US in the very near future. It will make the financial collapse in the Soviet Union look very appealing comparatively.

    While Obama may be a great orator and politician… he is a lousy economist, who likewise surrounds himself with a terrible ones.

    So, we end up listening and thinking to the same circus of clowns thinking that what they are doing will benefit the public.

    They may be great speakers, but I’d rather have someone who understands (or does not lie about) what’s really going on.

    Will all of that said… we’re not in Kansas anymore. Call me gloomy, but the real depression is just about to kick in… it won’t be pretty.

  3. daniel says:

    haha it’s funny how obama finally gets a victory, and we’re told to go home. we all know republican’s platform will be the repeal this. november is going to be interesting

  4. Bjorn says:

    Precisely… momentum just changed for the better.

  5. Bjorn says:

    Andrey, the conservative claims of knowing “reality” and being the “real” Americans are tired and beaten. If they were the fiscal conservatives they claim to be then perhaps they would have appreciated the budget surplus Clinton left them instead of plunging America into a ridiculous deficit and a near depression. And I agree, Obama IS a great orator and politician. But his numbers are actually pretty solid… the nonpartisan CBO seemed to think so. I’m not upset to be out of Kansas.

  6. Bjorn says:

    Yes, it will. But maybe the Republicans should finally find something positive to run on. Being the party of “no” is about as creative as “drill baby drill”

  7. Andrey says:

    And here’s the problem with our “contemporary” worldview. It’s bipartisan… just because I oppose this bill you put me up in the “conservative” camp. I think that I’ve clearly pinpointed that I’m neither :).

    The reality are something that is tangible, not a politician’s promise for a “better future”.

    I’ve outlined you the realities that neither republicans, and especially democrats are willing to face… repeatedly. It has nothing to do with political ideologies.

    I’ll outline them again for you:

    1) US Economy is 85% service based, and the rest is pseudo-production that depends almost entirely on cheaply imported goods financed by inflated money.

    2) In order to finance social service sector, US have to cancel it’s bid for being the “world police” and re-invest that money into infrastructure and social services that just passed (do you really think I’m a republican?). That will not happen anytime soon.

    3) US dollar WILL fall in value if not this year, then next. Most of the people who I agree with think that in 8-10 month it will fall by as much as 30-50%… but forecasts aside… even a 10% fall means a 10% less for people to retire on. Combine that over several years of devaluation and you have a nation of retired baby-boomers (who will begin retiring in large numbers next year) who have nothing to live on. The social funds have been spent. There’s nothing in those funds but IOUs.

    While the real Americans are tired and beaten, the real Americans are ignorant of reality. They think that the recession is over, and everything will be fixed by the people who started it all to begin with :). Come on, are we that naive. What’s going on now is that these people know the end is near and they are stuffing their pockets like there’s no tomorrow.

    But, in words of person who sees it like it is:

    “Don’t open your eyes, take it from me,
    I have found you can find happiness in slavery…”

  8. Andrey says:

    Republican campaign is fear… and there’ll be enough fear going around in the next few years for them to come back… stronger than ever. It’ll get Biblical :)

  9. Bjorn says:

    Interesting points Andrey… I agree with some of what you are saying… maybe not quite to your doomsday extent. Have you read Ron Paul’s “End the Fed”, a friend of mine got it for me for Christmas… I’d be interested in your thoughts on it if you have.

  10. Bjorn says:

    Andrey, it gives me peace like a river of Old Testament proportions that you are no prophet:)

  11. jael says:

    I feel like I woke up in a New America, one I belong in. I hadn’t felt like that since November ’08.

  12. Bjorn says:

    That is exactly how I felt. I was in bed sick all weekend but now I am walking around like it is November 5 ’08.

  13. Andrey says:

    While many Libretarians, including Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul think that ending the Fed will be a good idea, what they don’t take into consideration are the consequences of such actions and the extend that monetary dependency drove US into “prosperity” over the past few years.

    Reality is very simple. If I borrow 1 million dollars, I become an instant millionaire. If could live the life of luxury FOR A TIME. Likewise, if US is a person. By borrowing 13 trillion over the past 30 year, it enjoyed unprecedented prosperity due to expansion of cheap credit money to businesses that foreigners like China paid for.

    You may argue that American prosperity generated over past years is due to innovation and productivity, but I think if you really look at it honestly… no other country had such amounts of personal loans handed out as it was in US. Thus this “artificial boom” was not real. It was borrowed, and now that people and companies don’t have money to pay it back… more of the same is thought as a remedy.

    The ONLY possible semi-solution as I see it now is a DRASTIC reduction in military spending to “refinance” the US economy. Unfortunately, at this point the Fed already grown into our country in such a way that removing it would kill both :).

    The US is dependent on current money system and you don’t have to go as far as the nearest highway and count how many trucks it takes channel food from California to Chicago to understand how fragile our state really is.

    The reality of “Capitalism” is that once something hits the fan… it’s survival of the fittest. We were trained to do so by the system. If you believe in inherent goodness of the people as Batman does… :) I guess we’ll have to wait and see who was right.

    I’m betting on Joker… as much as I’d like to believe that we are all “civilized” and “reasonable”.

    Eventually, we’ll have to resort to European way of life which existed in US at one time. Local grocery stores. No more driving to jobs for 4 hours a day. Going to your neighbors for a cup of sugar.

    It’s not all that bad. There are positive things in all of this.

  14. Andrey says:

    You don’t have to listen to me (I merely agree with and learn from many people who came before me having same views).

    What comes up… must come down if it does not have any solid foundation (and US economy does not… debt is not a good foundation). Laws of physics. Bipartisan politics is a sham. One party cheats on them, and the second party gives them a midnight booty call when they are desperate… promising fidelity and love.

    So, my guess is simple… not a prophecy, but educated guess. By the time Obama leaves, people will settle for half-brain of Bush to “save them” :).

    Cynicism aside. Democracy is an ugly thing in times of desperation.

  15. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the window into your worldview Andrey. Hopefully the future does hold a “DRASTIC reduction in military spending” and the elimination of the deficit. What encourages me about measures such as health care form, is that these are innovative, helpful solutions that help us do so. And thanks for the Euro plug, it warms the heart:)

  16. Bjorn says:

    “a midnight booty call when they are desperate”… loved that line… damn the political cycle!
    And Democracy is a beautiful thing in times of triumph:)

  17. daniel says:

    hold on, you’re calling the republicans the fear mongerers when obama’s been out saying people will die if this bill isn’t passed? both parties use fear, so let’s stop using that against or for any party.
    also, the “party of no” is such a cliched saying. the republicans have presented a healthcare reform bill. it was even posted on the white house website. just because the press chooses not to cover it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  18. Bjorn says:

    Daniel, the reply windows ran out on that thread so I’ll respond down here. On the fear mongering, I think it is a statement of fact that people are dying for lack of health care. Soviet-style takeovers and pulling the plug on grandma – not so much… that’s the thing with the Republican spin machine, it generates garbage too much of the time. Birthers? Give it a rest. And last I checked, 200 Republican amendments were worked into the bill and this was widely reported as well… I’ll borrow the language from a commenter who commented on this post on another site: (http://www.spectrummagazine.org/blog/2010/03/22/yes_he_still_can_obama_got_his_mojo_back_through_health_care):
    “Geraldo Rivera made a surprising comment last night on Fox News that I thought was astute: “You can’t tell me,” he said, “that not a single Republican deep down thought this was an acceptable bill.” He was disturbed, he said, by the fact that the Republicans had so clearly voted not according to their individual consciences but instead monolithically following strictly partisan interests. The same charge of absolute partisanship cannot be leveled against the Democrats, at least from the final tally, since a small but significant number of them voted against the reform, and the final wording of the bill also included important concessions to Republican interests.
    To have a Republic congressman scream “Baby killer” at pro-life Democrat Bart Stupac during the proceedings (following on Joe Wilson’s screaming “You lie” in the middle of a presidential address some months back) also raises basic questions about the level of civility among those purporting to represent traditional values (although there is a long tradition of uncivility in our politics as well). As a registered independent who is less enthusiastic about the Obama administration than my friend Bjorn, I think it is time for the Grand Old Party to do some serious soul-searching.”

  19. daniel says:

    Ok, I’ll take you point by point.
    1. The way you downplay Obama’s fearmongering and at the same time overplaying the “Republican spin machine” is not fair. If Obama isn’t about fearmonger and about the truth and he’s so worried about those who are dying without this bill, how come only the tax collecting portion of it goes effective immediately, but the rest, that part that helps people won’t start till 2013? And can you honestly say the democrats don’t spin just as much? Or do they always only tell the whole truth?
    2. I never said there weren’t crazy elements in the conservative movement. I’m not a birther. There are crazies on the liberal side, so what’s the point of bringing that up? It’s not even fearmongering. It’s just stupid people wanting anyway to get Obama out of office. But I don’t think Biden’s any better, so I’m actually against that. Haha
    3. 200 or 20000 Republican amendments, doesn’t matter. The bill as a whole is flawed (my opinion). There are good parts to the bill, but the bill as a whole is not right. And just as you pointed out about the NYT piece, whatever Geraldo says is opinion. How can he know what Republicans were thinking unless he was told and from that quote, it doesn’t sound like he was. And he’s fundamentally wrong. It’s the House of Representatives. They are there to represent Americans and every poll, liberal or conservative leaning, showed that the majority of Americans were against this bill. We’ll just have to wait till November.
    4. The commenter is right. There is civility lacking in politics, and it’s unfortunate for my side to have that lack of civility manifesting itself like that. I have no defense for the baby-killer comment. Just no class there…

  20. David says:

    Clinton was in no way responsible for the government surpluses. Historically, it is not even a debatable issue.

  21. David says:

    He has his mojo back, but he is going to lose his congress. lol

  22. Bjorn says:

    Well, you can split hairs all you want but here’s the link to the CBO figures for Clinton’s tenure: he left a $236 billion surplus in 2000, his last full year in office.
    http://www.cbo.gov/budget/data/historical.pdf
    Bush? He left us a $459 billion deficit

  23. Bjorn says:

    like your style:)

  24. Bjorn says:

    OK, fair enough. Let’s go point by point and be civil:)

    1. Fear mongering. Both parties spin, no doubt about it. But as I watch the national debate I really feel that there is a difference between, on the one hand, Democrats stressing the (admittedly scary) fact that people are going bankrupt all the time due to illness and lack of insurance, and on the other, talk of the aforementioned Soviet-style takeovers (ranted about by a Republican member of Congress IN SESSION yesterday) and death panels that Palin is still talking about. There really is a difference – one is stating fact (and yes, I agree, scary fact) while the other is fabrication that leads to fear and even more irrational, bad thinking. This is a problem. I am sure you see that.
    2. Agreed, there are very dumb people on both sides.
    3. We are just going to have different opinions on the bill. I dug around a little online and there are polls supporting most persuasions so I don’t think either of us can claim the masses uniformly support us… I agree – November will be the real test. And maybe Democrats will pay for yesterday’s vote. On the other hand, maybe we’ll see that Obama was voted in for a reason.
    4. Yes, the commenter is right on civility. But apart from issues of class, I find it discouraging on both sides when parties vote simply along party lines. As much as they annoyed me, however, I was proud that the Democratic party actually showed some ability to vote according to conscience – on both sides of the issue yesterday. What happened to the Republicans? Surely there are some moderates that can see the merit in a health care overhaul that has ideas from both parties in it?

    Thanks for your ideas, this is good. Let me know if you want to collaborate on writing in the future… I have some ideas that we could take offline and discuss by email until we get some structure.

  25. daniel says:

    lol this is actually fun and invigorating for me. you are actually one of the few liberals i know who is rational enough to have a discussion with. I’ll agree with you about the fearmongering but only with this bill. Let’s not get started with the fearmongering democrats do with global warming (how nyc will be underwater in 10 years or something like that). I could argue each of the points you made (like the death panel thing) but I understand your point about the general state of things, so that would be pointless. (of course i’d argue that the so called “death panels” happen in England and the system we’re going to is going to be something like that)
    again, we’re going to opinion. how can you say democrats voted according to their conscience when rep. stupak changed his mind about abortion at the last min because of a promise of an executive order, which is nothing. it can’t triumph law and the next president can just write another one getting rid of it.
    And all republicans will admit that there are some good things in the bill. So why do we have to clump it together and push it through? the most telling part for me was how they voted to pass a bill and literally an hour later, voted for the reconciliation bill, which would make changes to the first bill. if the democrats see there are problems with the first bill, why not change it and then pass it, instead of passing 2 bills?

    bleh, sorry for the bad sentence structures and misspelling. it’s past my bedtime and i’m feeling too lazy to correct myself. i’d love to collaborate with you! just hit me up anytime.

  26. AndrewR says:

    This is guy is historical. The 1st black US president, the 5th US president to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and largest health care reform since since Medicare in 1965. And to think it was all done in a little over a year. Epic.

  27. David says:

    The congress has spending power. It was the Republican congress that balanced the budget and it was also the Republican congress that stopped balancing the budget after we hit the recession after 9/11. That’s the way it should work. We should have surpluses during the good years, and use some of the money we saved in the bad years to help us out of recession. The problem with the Republicans was that after the recession ended, they never re-balanced the budget.

    Clinton complied with the balanced budget, it wasn’t his idea and he would not have done it if it were not for the Republican congress. In fact, if I remember correctly, he argued pretty heavily against a balanced budget and the government was shut down because he kept rejecting the balanced budget.

  28. Andrey says:

    To say that Clinton had budget “surplussed” is like saying that I’ve had a budget “surplus” if I took a couple hundred out of my wife’s savings account.

    Clinton was years ahead of Leman Brothers on this one :). You can’t borrow from trust funds, leave IOUs and then write it off as a surplus. It’s mainly due to Clinton’s surplus techniques that we have no money in SS fund.

    If you want a real “surplus” numbers… look up the increasing US debt during the save years. You’ll be surprised for it to find it going up steadily.

  29. David says:

    Andrey is more correct than I. Even though there was technically a surplus, it was based off of accounting that would send a private person to prison.

  30. David says:

    Reducing military spending will not be enough. We will have to re-privatize health care, start up the death panels and privatize Social Security.

    To add to what Andrey was saying about the last 30 years of growth being based off of borrowing (I think it goes back a little farther than that)…

    The same goes for Medicare and Social Security. Everyone says what great programs they are…well sure. If you take out a trillion dollars in loans today, of course its going to be great now, but what happens when we have to pay those loans off, we are so totally f’ed. There is just no way to make the numbers work. We still have a few years to go before it gets really bad. 2025 is judgement day for the US. By then, the Baby Boomers will be told that they won’t be allowed to retire, will only be able receive health care if they are deemed worthy of care, and we will be in a real energy crisis that makes 2008 look like a cake walk because of the scarcity of oil. Unfortunately, the Baby Boomers were too god damn stupid and high on weed to do anything about this before now. The good news is that they will be too damn old to start a revolution when it happens. Unfortunately, people our age are going to bare the brunt of this crisis.

  31. Bjorn says:

    Just got back from 2 days in Sacramento so excuse the delayed reply. Glad you enjoy the back and forth! How exactly do death panels happen in England. I’ve lived there for 6 years and never heard of the term until a few months ago from some hysterical tea partiers… Oh, and do you deny that global warming is taking place? Wasn’t sure from what you said. I wasn’t defending Stupak… don’t like him. I was simply making the point that I was impressed that Democrats didn’t seem to only vote according to party lines on the issue – indicates to me that there was at least some introspection in the decision-making process. And the reconciliation process is confusing to me…. all this could have been avoided if Scott Brown could have just lost:)

    And cool… we’ll talk soon RE a guest post or something..

  32. Bjorn says:

    Andrew, I am absolutely with you… sometimes we lose sight of what he’s accomplished because we are too caught up in the controversy swirling around his agenda.

  33. Bjorn says:

    Andrey and David: Accounting technicalities aside, we have Bush to thank for a record deficit. And Obama to thank for health care reform that will reduce the deficit significantly.. For more discussion on the CBO numbers and polls, check out the video post I put up last night. I do a shout out to the two of you. Let me know what you think.

  34. Bjorn says:

    David, I won’t argue with you over the judgment of babyboomers…
    But the finances of health care reform are solid:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0321/Health-care-reform-bill-101-Who-will-pay-for-reform
    And let me know what you think of the latest video post… good idea?

  35. Bjorn says:

    Ooops.. posted this reply to the wrong guy… so here’s take 2… (in reply to a comment in a conversation thread above… WORDPRESS…):
    David, I won’t argue with you over the judgment of babyboomers…
    But the finances of health care reform are solid:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0321/Health-care-reform-bill-101-Who-will-pay-for-reform
    And let me know what you think of the latest video post… good idea?

  36. daniel says:

    oh man, hope you had fun in Sacramento. I got into another discussion on facebook after this. it’s very entertaining and educational.
    just going back to some things you mentioned:
    death panel: i’ll grant you that term was made up to scare people. but in effect, that’s what they do. In England, government bodies have told hospitals to decide of the patient is close to death and then withdraw medicine and let them die to save money on the meds. But experts have come out saying that close to death is subjective. my point is, it shouldn’t be the government’s place to decide when to stop giving me medicine. it should be up to me and my family. also, life saving cancer drugs which is available through Europe were denied not because it might be harmful, but because it wouldn’t be “cost-effective” I mean, the government has a formula which looks at the quality of life and overall cost effectiveness. Seriously?? if i can pay for it, give it to me, instead of denying it! if that’s not a death panel, what is? yes, these are anecdotal evidences, but they prove my point that “death panels” do exist.

    to be honest, I’m not sure about global warming. I just find it funny that even people who have been saying global warming don’t use that phrase anymore. it’s climate change. And i just read an article showing records from the US national climate data center saying that the temps in the US have cooled in the last decade. My problem is that people who say global warming/climate change is real and that’s final are wrong. that’s not science. it’s patently dishonest, especially in the light of new information. like why did people working with the UN try to hide the fact that they wanted to “hide the decline”? finally, a lot of this is based on computer models. I don’t think the models showed a decline in temperature in the 21st century. All I want is science without politics. Bleh, a guy can dream, right? =)

    haha yeah, they didn’t vote on party lines. But I think they did it for different reasons beside the introspection you’re talking about. But we’ll never know since we can’t read minds.

  37. daniel says:

    oh, i’ve been meaning to ask you. you applaud this bill for being “deficit reducing.” but can you explain to me how a tanning bed tax is fair? it’s going to kill jobs, which is Mr. Obama’s number 1 priority.

    how the “healthcare bill” includes a student loan reform which the dems say (but can’t verify that it will save money) is beyond me? so the money “saved” from the student loan reform is used to say that the healthcare reform is going to save money. they are 2 different things!

    finally, i can save money too if i can start collecting money now but don’t have to pay out premiums for 4 years. which is exactly what’s happening. taxes are going to be collected starting now, but people wont see healthcare insurance till 2013. is that fair? and is it really “deficit reducing?”

  38. Bjorn says:

    Daniel, I said the bill would reduce the deficit according to the CBO. I believe that. Detractors will always find imperfections in the bill like your tanning bed example and use them as ammo to gun it down. It is not a perfect bill but it is far better than what we have now and I definitely do not think Republicans would make it a priority the way the Democrats have. As for the financial mechanics of the whole thing, your four year example is put in perspective by the fact that the projected deficit reductions were done 10 and 20 years out – time enough for the policies in the bill to show their real colors.

  39. hasse says:

    It is interesting. Tell to me, please – where to me to learn more about it?

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