Beltway Spin Podcasts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will You Lead?

Does this administration have Stockholm Syndrome? Stockholm Syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. I see a similar sort of weird analogy to how this administration has charted it's path through every complex and major issue facing our country today.

For example on the issue of health care reform, the bill eventually signed into law by the President ( not the original bill passed through the House of Representatives) will provide health insurance coverage over the next few years for 30 million currently uninsured Americans. However, without the public option in place or the antitrust exemption repealed (things included in the original house bill), the price of the health coverage will continue to escalate, as some who are already covered by private health plans can testify to, because there is no mechanism in place to keep cost down. Yes, I realize that 60 votes were not in the Senate for the public option but the votes were not there either for LBJ for the 1964 Civil Rights act initially. In my opinion, President Obama could have used his "bully pulpit" to really fight for the public option and gone to the airwaves to provide a list of all the US Senators in opposition to it and list the amount of money he or she had pocketed from the health insurance industry over the years. Instead what we got was there is not 60 votes there let's drop that from the bill and not have a fight there. I always found it interesting that politicians and the corporate media generally love polling data yet on the issue of the public option where poll after poll showed that a majority of Americans, including some republicans, supporting it, the White house and US Senate were so quick to just jettison it from the bill without a public fight for it at all. Did the White house and some in the democratic leadership make a deal with the private health insurance companies? I do not know the answer to that, but what I do know is that as a result Americans health insurance premiums will continue to escalate and the White house put the same private health insurance companies who are the cause of the health insurance crisis (unaffordable high premiums) in this country today right back fully in charge without the best mechanism to keep pricing down totally off the table and out of the bill. Yes, you will have more Americans covered, and that's a good thing, but premiums will continue to rise and become more and more unaffordable, that was the main problem the bill was supposed to address. The affordability problem. Does that make any sense?

Second, the bank bailout. The original bill that passed through the House of Representatives had some strings attached to the money. Of course as usual they were stripped out once the bill reached the US Senate. Once again, did the POTUS take to the air waves and use his "bully pulpit" to fight to have those strings put back into the Senate bill? No. Instead, he signed legislation that gave the banks the money, but with no strings attached to it, you wound up having individuals and small business owners who have outstanding credit scores still not be able to get loans and very few mortgages were modified. Essentially, trillions given away to the banks with no demands put on how some of the money would be utilized and you put the very banks who played a large role in the destruction of our US economy right back in the driver's seat with no strings attached. After the bailout had taken place, as more homeowners continued to lose their homes to foreclosures because banks would not modify their loans and as small business owners came forward and reported they still could not even get lines of credit to keep their businesses running, the POTUS was reduced to publicly begging the very banks that were bailed out to start loaning out money and modifying mortgages. If you look at how different the US auto industry's bailout was structured, there were specific strings and conditions put on the money. Since their bailout, they are now profitable and creating thousands of jobs in America and paying their loans back. The banks, on the other hand, are paying the money back but have not really changed practices and CEO's and other high ranking employees are continuing to receive millions in bonuses, foreclose on Americans homes across the country, and continue to deny small businesses lines of credit. Does that make any sense?

Lastly, the issue of job creation. The private sector, in particular the multi-nationals, are what have created this jobs crisis in the US by outsourcing jobs overseas and/or hiring non citizens to do jobs. The outsourcing crisis has been ongoing for 30 years now and continues without any abatement. This administration has given tax cuts ant tax incentives to businesses to create jobs and hire Americans and yet the majority of them still sit on the sidelines while this country collapses. Yet when the issue of the stimulus took place, I do not recall the option to have the government do large hirings (what FDR did to put Americans back to work after the "robber barons" would not) even being a part of any discussion. FDR's WPA program employed in just a few months, in it's maximum, 3.3 million Americans. The program was implemented as an emergency measure by FDR and was designed to last until the US economy recovered. Does anyone think today that the POTUS or others in the democratic leadership would ever have the wisdom to do something like this today? Your answer, no. They would be too worried about what the "chattering class" and right wingers would say about them. So the whole country continues to sink in abyss while the vast majority of the private sector continues to just watch on the sidelines. Does this make any sense? The economy has decline so much that lawyers and other with college degrees are not even able to find work. How long will Americans have to wait for jobs to return to this economy? Another two years, four, when? How much longer will the administration continue to wait and sit on the sidelines for the private sector to create the jobs? If the POTUS and the democratic leadership had undertaken a similar measure that FDR took do you think that we would be looking at a Speaker Boehner?

The common theme in the first two years of Obama's presidency has been a lack of real leadership on the major gut wrenching issues facing Americans today. Without this leadership, republicans will continue to fill that leadership vacuum, start and dominate the debates with more supply side type nonsense that have caused the destruction we see today.

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