by W. Kim Heron
Back three weeks ago, we ran a News Blawg item with the heading: "Speaking of health care, can someone check Obama's backbone?" Well, the president apparently found and steeled his spine before confronting last night's joint session of Congress. After standing largely on the sidelines in recent weeks while gaseous rhetoric inflated the spectacle the Republican Party has become, the president seemingly popped the balloon of inanity and insanity, going after "bogus claims" made to "kill reform at any cost." Here was the president in inspirational mode, leadership mode. And significantly the long-heard talk about willingness to compromise on the public option was recast. Every iteration of that line that I heard before sounded like "I'll give the option up to get a deal - any deal." But the forcefulness of last night's framing - "we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal" - came off as a challenge: What else do you have to offer? Then came the cogent comparison of a public option on health care to a public option on universities, etc. It didn't sound like the option is bargaining chip.
Another clear framing of the public option comes from the former Clinton labor secretary, academic and author Robert Reich in a one-minute video making the rounds. For a jot of background, many interpreted the behind-the-scenes formation of the Obama administration's economic policies as a replay of the tug of war between two camps of the Clinton administration. Leaning to big capital and the status quo side was Robert Rubin, then a CitiCorp honcho and former Clinton treasuring secretary. In the more progressive camp was Reich, who titled his last book on the state of the economy Supercapitalism - and it wasn't intended as a compliment. Just as in the Clinton administration, the Rubin faction won as Obama's team took shape. So here's Reich coming down clearly, succinctly for the most progressive notion the administration currently has on the table:
Finally, in the "open to other ideas" camp, there are still diehards pushing single-payer as the single best idea out there. Among them are Mad As Hell Doctors, a contingent of whom are driving across the country with their message, trying to get a meeting with the president when they make it to D.C. They'll spend the day in Detroit on Sept. 24. Anyone out there have suggestions on what they should do while they're here?