Sunday, November 08, 2009

Obama: Making Shit Work

It's accepted as a matter of faith that Obama would be happy with any reform bill, so he can claim a victory no matter how shitty it is.  And the idea is that Obama would put politics ahead of policy and be happy to give us a shitty bill.  But that's absolute nonsense.  Because Obama has to live with this bill.  And the shittier it is, the worse the repercussions for him politically.  If he spends all this energy and healthcare gets worse, it's his neck on the line. 

Although many aspects of the reform still won't have started by 2012, we'll still have a good enough idea of how it's working.  And if the bill is considered a failure, they're going to hang it around his neck every chance they get.  And the only way to avoid that is to create a good bill that does what he said he wanted it to do.  And while that still might not be feasible, it's at least more feasible with Obama's technique than it's ever been with anyone else's. 

And so even if Obama is an empty political hack, it would be only natural for him to push as hard as he can for a bill he can live with.  After all, if he was a political coward, he wouldn't have offered to play with this hornet's nest at all.  But once he threw his hat in the ring, he was all-in.  That's the secret of the liberal platform: We have working magic.  We know how to use the government to truly fix problems.  And so the best thing a liberal can do politically is to provide great policies.  As long as we're making shit work, we're golden.


Scott P said...

I think the key lies in the middle ground between shitty bill and great bill -- the shitty bill that can be turned into a great bill. That's what I think we'll get, and I think Obama is smart enough to understand that. It's all about incrementalism. Start with a basic (if slightly shitty) framework, then add to it and modify it over time. That's what happened with Social Security, and it can happen with health care reform, too. The intitial bill doesn't have to be perfect, as long as you don't burn the house down it will grow on people and before too long even Republicans will be defending it, just like Medicare.

Mike Goldman said...

Well now the Stupak amendment has the beneficial effect of mobilizing women, and getting that language stripped out. This is really great tactics no matter how ugly the sausage making looks.

Mike Goldman said...

If the House passed a perfect bill, we'd all go hooray, but then nobody would be as mobilized as the right wing to kill it. The necessary process is much more subtle.

The final bill must not contain this language, it must contain a reasonable public option, it must guarantee issue to people with pre-existing conditions...if it meets these benchmarks it will be a success.