President Obama had a lot of obstacles in his path. As the first black president that America was not ready for, he had to play many games of appeasement. The fallacy is that his biggest obstacles were Republicans.
President Obama’s signature project was health care. He did what it took to get it through. Progressives who have always wanted a single-payer system knew that President Obama said he wanted one too. We continued to push him lightly but ultimately continued to move our relatively criticism-less tolerance for a bar that continued to be less and less beneficial for people and more so for the corporations. Recall that health insurance stocks soared when Obamacare became the law of the land.
We acquiesced when single-payer was not even the starting point. We gave in when Democrats dropped the public option. Why? We thought we knew the president’s heart. Deep inside he supported single-payer. Moreover, many of us convinced ourselves that the system would morph into a single-payer system because even without a public option, the law required that insurance companies accept anyone who applied for insurance, irrespective of preexisting conditions. That ultimately would have many of them bow-out of the system leading to the migration to single-payer.
My article “Obamacare Is The Path To Single Payer Universal Healthcare” made a bold assertion.
During the Affordable Care Act debate, there was a public option that would have simulated the latter. Lobbying summarily got it removed because had it made it into the Act, over a short period of time, arithmetic would prevail as the public option would be less expensive for any given plan. It would then turn Obamacare into a single-payer system by attrition.
There are several different pathways to reach the same goal. It is however important that the paths are built. Obamacare is the path built with pebbles and stones. It is better than the mud path of years past. As riders demand a smoother path they won’t yearn for the mud path again but for a paved road. Americans will not go back after tasting healthcare/health insurance as a right with all the benefits mentioned above. Exchanges will become single payer entities as health insurance companies are unable to demand the profits they want. Eventually, exchanges will morph into Medicare for all.
The genius of Obamacare is not that it solved the problem in its entirety. The genius is that it made reverting to an immoral system untenable.
That assertion is now in question given that Donald Trump and his administration are methodically deconstructing Obamacare while lying to their constituency about providing better and cheaper health insurance. Of course, there is no plan to do such.
We were wrong in not treating health care as an existential problem that should not be tackled incrementally because incremental construction for good in an extractive economy can be easily deconstructed when a regime that disregards the poor and middle-class comes into power. And Trump is doing just that.
Democrats get in their own way too many times. After all, Obamacare was less than optimal not because of Republican but because Democrats continued to carry water for the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. Many would say compromise with stakeholders is necessary. While that may be true health industrial complex are more extortioners than stakeholders.
Recently President Obama had a meeting with a group of freshman Congresspersons. Common Dreams reported the meeting as follows.
Former President Barack Obama on Monday night cautioned freshman members of the U.S. House against pushing for broadly popular, sweeping reforms by suggesting that voters will reject progressive policies due to their supposed high costs—despite evidence to the contrary.
At a meeting organized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Obama told several first-term members both that they should continue to pursue “bold” policy agendas—but also injected the familiar right-wing and centrist canard concerning the cost of such programs.
“He said we [as Democrats] shouldn’t be afraid of big, bold ideas—but also need to think in the nitty-gritty about how those big, bold ideas will work and how you pay for them,” one attendee told the Washington Post.
The two ideas struck many critics as contradictory. Some slammed the former president for appearing to try to tamp down the ambition, passion, and sense of urgency many freshmen including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have brought to their work—hoping to combat a climate crisis fueled by corporate greed and politicians’ complicity; a for-profit health insurance system which has left tens of millions of Americans without healthcare; and rising economic inequality.
President Obama has not learned the most important lesson of his administration. Democrats playing for the middle and appeasing corporations isn’t our game, shouldn’t be, and never wins indefinitely. It cost us 2000, 2004, 2010, 2014, and 2016. But when people believe we will do something Progressively bold we win.
When Republicans are in power they know not to ask the question, ‘How will it be paid for?’ because they know the answer is the deficit spending they rail against when Democrats are in power. Dick Cheney several years pointed out an important fact, deficits don’t matter.
Our economy is human-made. We use fiat money. As such we cannot run out of it. We should make the economy serve us and not the other way around.
I recently listened to Economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton, and she expressed the former differently if not more elegantly. She said we currently define a budget and then decide what we can afford. Why not determine what we need and then fit our budget to fulfill the need? The money is there because as the owners of a sovereign currency we determine the supply.
I interviewed Daily KOS’ own Arliss Bunny, an MIT physicist, who further explains Modern Monetary Theory which isn’t a theory but how we employ monetary policy for ‘those who matter to politicians.’ She provides a detail explanation that will make it clear that the money can be there for the entire Progressive Agenda if we remove the chains our current titans of finance are using to enslave the masses.
Politicians rarely ask how something is going to be paid for when going to war or awarding tax-cuts to the rich. Likewise, we should not allow that question to deter the Progressive agenda. We have the answer. There is work to be done. There are problems to solve. An economic model that cannot accommodate a reality that there are workers available and work to be done but cannot connect them is a failure. Adjust the economic model to solve the problem for all and not to enrich a few.
Let’s stop undermining the intelligence of Americans. Obama did what he thought was right. But incrementalism and timidity just won’t do now. We now have young leaders who have the freedom to be real and articulate policies undeterred from corporate media criticism, push polls or legacy economic fallacies. They are not owned. They are not caged by the system they must defeat.