Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bipartisanship At It's Worst

Salon editor Joan Walsh tweets this fun fact about Senate Democrats attempts at bipartisanship to Republicans.

Sen. Health Committee included 160 GOP amendments on the #hcr bill, but no Repubs, including McCain, voted on it.

Eric Alterman makes the argument President Obama is feigning bipartisanship in order to win public support. I have misgivings with Alterman's thesis. Mainly, it isn't working and Obama is still making bipartisan overtures. Public support for Obama has been eroding. What we do know is Obama negotiated a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry. Blogger Glenn Greenwald suggested the White House only floated the public option to appease progressives.

In this context, it appears likely that the “public option” was never a serious White House commitment, but merely a bargaining chip to string along progressives, one which would be ultimately sacrificed to secure industry and Blue Dog support. Either that, or the president failed to use to his substantial institutional weapons to compel party support for his plan (note how, in the past, Rahm Emanuel was extremely aggressive, even threatening, in pressuring defiant House progressives to support legislation the White House favored).

Obama seems more interested in a political victory than true health care reform. A bill with no individual mandate, guaranteed issue, minimum package or public option would not be reform. Progressives have to be concerned about Obama signing a bill that would mandate every American buying private health insurance. The insurance industry would have less incentive to lower prices. The pharmaceutical industry is a sign Obama may go in that direction.

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