Monday, March 22, 2010
"WE HAVE LIFT-OFF!" What a Difference a Day Makes to Obama's "Base" James S. Henry
It was altogether fitting and proper that yesterday's historic House vote on health care reform took place on the first day of Spring 2010. All across the country, progressive activists -- including many of us who worked hard for President Obama's election not only in November 2008 but in endless primaries before that -- have been in a deep funk about the Administration's "failure to launch" on a wide range of issues, from health care and immigration reform to climate change and financial regulation, to Guantanamo and Middle East peace talks.
For months it seemed as if our two-party system had been surrendered to a one-party veto, that Hill Democrats had become feckless and supine, and that "Si Se Puede" had somehow been translated into "Beltway" as "No Way, Jose."
Now the clouds have lifted, at least temporarily, and the first rocket soars skyward. Of course this is only the beginning. But it sure feels good for a change to be staring up at the sky, watching that baby split the clouds.
Some purists on the Left are already denouncing the House bill as a handout to insurance companies that falls far short of the "single payer" or "public option" alternatives of their dreams. Of course the bill also does not extend public subsidies to cover abortions -- although that was already the case under existing Federal law.
They realize that the only alternative to passing the House bill was a Republican victory that would not only have jeopardized the rest of the Democratic agenda for the rest of this year, but would have also led to a catastrophic defeat at the polls in November.
Short of organizing yet another doomed Third Party quest, they also realize that there is simply no alternative to pushing for further reforms within the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, on the Right, as usual, there is Sturm, Drang, und Zorn, all of which add up to a strong prima facie case for providing free anger management coverage to qualified Republicans in the final Senate health care bill.
Vulture capitalist Mitt Romney, author of a not-wildly-dissimilar Massachusetts health plan, has already promised to seek to "repeal" the bill, while a group of mainly Red State attorney generals is threatening to challenge the bill's constitutionality.
Meanwhile, the rag-tag "Tea Bag" army has completely lost control, exposing its frothing bigotry and astounding ignorance for everyone to see.
Far from being intimidated by these reactionaries, Democrats should be delighted. Not only is all the adolescent right-wing rage unappealing, but it is a sure sign that our policies are finally shaking things up.
Net net, the impact of this bill's passage on Obama's "base" is one of its most important consequences -- in addition to the series of health care reforms that are now much more likely to follow.
Eventually these reforms really will help the millions of Americans who struggle each and every day with our high-cost, minimally-efficient health care system.
Meanwhile, this victory has an immediate short-term payoff. It reminds Obama's "base" that, as President Obama said last night, "Big changes are still possible in America."
It also reminds us of how good it feels to actually win.
Far beyond health care, as the American Right clearly fears more than anything else, this could provide a huge lift for many other progressive reforms.
Houston, we have lift off!
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
THE ROBIN HOOD TAX
Why Doesn't Obama Support This Very Modest Progressive Tax? Just Guess Who Opposes It! James S. Henry
THE ROBIN HOOD TAX
While we wait patiently for any signs whatsoever of progressive change in America, progress is still being made, deo gratis, elsewhere. Of course this is no thanks to the banker-minded Spartans who still occupy the Trojan Horse that is become the US Treasury Department.
Today the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the kind of global financial transactions tax that is discussed in the extraordinary performance by Bill Nighy below. For more information about the European action, please follow this link.
Tax Justice Network International,
Global Financial Integrity,
have all been working hard to support this proposal. They could use your active involvement and support -- right now.
As the Puritan minister Stephan Marshall once said in a sermon addressed to Parliament in 1641, "You have great works to do, the planting of a new heaven and a new earth among us, and great works have great enemies."
(If for some odd reason the video does not appear below, please travel here to get it.)