Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Income Inequality Is All the Rage

Everybody who's anybody in the ruling media class is all atwitter over Noam Scheiber's New Republic piece, officially introducing Elizabeth Warren as the antidote to the serial inevitability of Hillary Clinton.

With the ascension of mildly progressive Bill de Blasio to the New York City mayorality this month, Occupy has risen from the premature grave that the corporate media dug for it in 2011 in order to make room for the re-election campaign of Barack Obama.

But the president's approval ratings have plummeted to all-time lows. Obamacare is a universally acknowledged mess, not least because it's hitting some affluent Obama supporters right in their wallets.  And now that heiress apparent Hillary has been caught red-handed buck-raking from the universally hated Goldman Sachs, the Beltway pundit class has officially acknowledged Warren as the next big thing, elevating her to rock star status as Populist Goddess.

So it looks like this might be the week that Obama achieves irrevocable lame duck status. Former supporters are openly calling him a liar, both on health insurance and on the security state. Immigration reform is dead. And columnist to the plutocrats Bill Keller penned an op-ed echoing the disenchantment of the moneyed class with the weak politician they were counting on to deliver up the New Deal to them on a silver platter. (Needless to say, the comments were withering, both on Keller and on Obama.)

You know your presidency is a failure when even a Democratic senator is now calling for an investigation of the failed rollout of your signature achievement. The Republicans must be kicking themselves at this point over their misguided government shutdown over Obamacare.

The media hates a vacuum. So now we have an uprising of "The Left". But as per usual, what passes for the left is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Because at the same time they're calling for an Elizabeth Warren challenge, they immediately let you know it's a head-fake. They  see Warren as a scold to nudge Hillary the Inevitable away from her ingrained plutocratic centrism. In other words, the Clintons had better start talking the populist talk if they want their One Percent candidacy to gain any public traction. From The Hill:
The goal of such a challenge wouldn’t necessarily be to defeat Clinton. It would be to prevent her from moving to the middle during the Democratic primary.
“I do think the country would be well served if we had somebody who would force a real debate about the policies of the Democratic Party and force the party to debate positions and avoid a coronation,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, an influential progressive group.
Adam Green, another progressive activist, suggested that Hillary should maybe address income inequality and support the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall while she's collecting her six-figure speaking fees in closed meetings with banks and corporations. 

With such advance notice that she'll be used as a populist prop, I am sure Elizabeth Warren will be eagerly jumping into the presidential ring any minute now. Of course, there's always the chance that she actually will get the nomination despite the passive-aggressive endorsements. Never say never. Also never say never to a third, fourth or fifth party. Or a revolution not predicted or approved by Washington insiders.

As if reading disaffected minds, the centrist think tank known as the Center for American Progress is starting up a special Inequality offshoot to "investigate" the class war. It's headed by lobbyist John Podesta, a corporate Clintonite from way back. They'll be searching for the root causes of wealth disparity, as if they actually think the causes are still a deep dark mystery.

So Hillary will inevitably be following in the footsteps of Boss Obama and talking the populist talk sooner rather than later. Like Obama, she'll be sending her operatives to corporate boardrooms to give them a reassuring wink and nod.

7 comments:

Zee said...

@Karen--

Per the NY Times article for which you provided the link, the horror stories about policy cancellations and huge premium hikes for replacement policies continue to mount up.

However, it's nice to know that according to this article from The Nation these stories are being shown by intrepid reporters to be a pack of lies:

http://www.thenation.com/article/177109/why-obamacares-troubled-rollout-might-force-cooperation-health-reform-needs#

The author of the article, one Harold Pollack, trots out about eight or nine “ObamaCare horror stories” that have been “debunked,” and from this seems to conclude that all such stories must really be bunkum.

And, even if some of the stories are true, it's only a tiny minority of cancellees who are really being screwed. Just look at all the good things that are being accomplished on the backs of these whining few:

“Consumers with individual or small-group policies that have been cancelled are a tiny proportion of the insured, and are also a small proportion of those most affected by health reform. Many of the cancelled plans were incredibly limited, and would not have protected people from financial ruin in the event of serious injury or illness. [So consider yourself damned lucky that Obama's looking out for your best interests! You may not be able to afford your new and improved policy, but so what?] Many people whose coverage was cancelled are eligible for subsidies on the new health insurance exchanges or are now eligible for Medicaid. Some are young adults who can enroll on a parent’s group plan.”

So. ObummerCare apologists have found a few “horror stories” that have been “debunked,” and those of us who have opposed ObummerCare from the start have a few stories of our own about people being seriously screwed that have, as yet not been debunked. (And here's another one from The Wall Street Journal. )

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303936904579177930307493584

Clearly, it will take some time to sort out the “anecdata” from the real facts. The 2014 mid-terms may be the real arbiter as to how many people are being screwed versus those who see a real benefit from ObummerCare. Me, I'm betting against ObummerCare.

But one thing that I find very interesting about the NY Times article is the number of so-called “friends” who castigated the author, Lori Gottlieb, for complaining about her whopping $5400 premium increase following the cancellation of her old policy.

She damned well should be grateful for the opportunity to take on this huge, added economic burden of providing health care to those who have none! How dare she put her own, (probably) middle-class, economic interests first?

What's the Matter With California?

Zee said...

Here's an interesting summary article that can be traced back to the Society of Actuaries, which claims that for 21,000,000 people in the individual health care insurance market, premium costs will go up by an average of 32%.

Sounds like a lot of ObamaCare horror stories that will need "debunking:"

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-nsc-obamacare-will-raise-average-health-insurance-20131102,0,814859.story

And here's the actual report:

http://cdn-files.soa.org/web/research-cost-aca-report.pdf

Noodge said...

Whatever the root of the story, "President Elizabeth Warren" has a really nice ring to it.

Add while she may not stand much of a chance against the snowballing bankroll that is Hillary Clinton, she can't win if she doesn't enter. Here's to hoping she does.

Pearl said...

The only hope is that by NOT having Obamacare work will lead to demand for a better health care bill including single payer and universal coverage. The previous belief that by supporting Obamacare despite its weaknesses would guide us to Medicare extensions or other improvements is not working as I predicted. Unfortunately, more people will be screwed by not having adequate
health care but this seems to be the only way to get action from the public
on many issues. It will have to get worse until citizen opposition and
demonstration begins to take form. There are signs of it at this point we
have to support.

I don't think any populist talk Hillary will attempt down the line will sit well with the increasing number of voters who are watching the ship of state keeling over more and more. Observing the Clintons' lavish life style (as Chelsea's 10M $ condo) may be a jarring note to more and more people struggling to survive. We may be forced to live without a Coronation and royalty in the White House god willing.

Zee said...

And continuing on my rant against ObummerCare apologists, I thought Dean Baker's attempt to absolve Obama of lying when he said “If you like your health care/doctor you can keep your health care/doctor. Period” (or words to that effect), was particularly pathetic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-baker/the-obama-pledge-on-keepi_b_4257519.html

First, without citing a shred of evidence—say, some top-secret, internal-use-only, smoking-gun memorandum from an insurance company—that proves that the company(ies) conspired to do so, Baker concludes the following:

“The plans being terminated because they don't meet the minimal standards were all plans that insurers introduced after the passage of the ACA. Insurers introduced these plans knowing that they would not meet the standards that would come into effect in 2014. Insurers may not have informed their clients at the time they sold these plans that they would not be available after 2014 because they had designed a plan that did not comply with the ACA.” (My bold emphasis.)

A pretty strong statement sans proof.

Baker goes on to say that:

“ if the insurers didn't tell their clients that the new plans would only be available for a short period of time, the blame would seem to rest with the insurance companies, not the ACA. After all, President Obama did not promise people that he would keep insurers from developing new plans that will not comply with the provisions of the ACA.”

Got that? Just because Obama left enough loopholes in the ACA for insurance companies to fly a Boeing 747 through, it's still all the insurance companies' fault. If Obama lied, it was really only by omission: the stupid people should have read between the lines.

Continuing in that vein,

“As a practical matter, there are many plans that insurers will opt to drop for market reasons that may or may not have anything to do with the ACA. It's hard to see how this could be viewed as a violation of President Obama's pledge. After all, insurers change and drop plans all the time. Did people who heard Obama's pledge understand it to mean that insurers would no longer have this option once the ACA passed?

If Obama's pledge was understood as ensuring that every plan that was in existence in 2010 would remain in existence, then it would imply a complete federal takeover of the insurance industry. This would require the government to tell insurers that they must continue to offer plans even if they are losing money on them and even if the plans had lost most of their customers. This would at the least be a strange policy. It would be surprising if many people thought this was the meaning of President Obama's pledge.”
(My bold emphasis.)

In continuing to blame the American people for stupidly believing what their own two lying ears were telling them, closes with this stupid, cutesy turn of logic:

“If we want to play Fox News, President Obama also promised people they could keep their doctor. Since 2010 tens of thousands of doctors have retired or even died. Guess the pledge that people could keep their doctor was yet another lie from the Obama administration.”

So, really, Obama didn't lie. The American people were just too stupid to read the fine print and/or understand what Obama wasn't saying.

Well, we already know that the average American voter is none to bright. Sadly, the proof of that began not with their misunderstanding what the ACA really is, but with the election of Barack Obama himself, who promised the most transparent administration in history.

Well, we get the government we deserve, and Obama strikes a new low.

Arrrggghhh! This is driving me crazy, and probably all you “Sardonickistas,” too. If I try to “debunk” every Obamapologist, I'll certainly end up in the madhouse. Enough, already!

Pearl, I hope that you're right.

Jay - Ottawa said...

For another aspect of the class war, don't miss Frank Bruni's op-ed of today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/opinion/bruni-the-extra-legroom-society.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131112&_r=0

James F Traynor said...

Read the New Republic article you referenced, Karen. My hopes have been on Warren, dim, but there. I think she's a warrior but you never know- even they don't sometimes. She hasn't backed down so far. The Clintons will try to finish her off, if they can't buy her off, and I don't think they'll be able to do it. And then there's the other side, the neocons. If she makes it past the primaries she'll be in real physical danger. More than usual I think. But we're a long way from there.

A long time ago I had this same sense of things when I stood in front of the town hall in Corvallis, Oregon and listened to Robert Kennedy say that "we made a mistake in Vietnam." And looking at his face you could tell that he not only meant it, but intended on doing something about it. He was killed a few days later. The issues at hand for this nation are, if anything, even bigger than then.