Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Quote of the Day

[In 2008] Barack Obama and Joe Biden got themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option. It was a promise as clear and explicit as the $2,000 checks promise is today – their platform was explicit in pledging that “any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan.”

But then over the course of the year, as Republicans in the congressional minority kicked and screamed, the administration ever so gradually started backing down, rather than using the election mandate to try to shame the GOP into submission.

By the middle of the year, Obama said: “The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform.” His Health and Human Services secretary said that it was “not the essential element” of health care reform.

By the winter, Obama flatly lied, insisting: “I didn’t campaign on a public option.”

And then by 2010, the Obama White House had killed the plan, and Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance. Soon after, voters delivered what Obama called a “shellacking” in the midterm election, effectively foreclosing on the possibility of transformative change during Obama’s presidency.

A little more than a decade later, the public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden on both the policy and the politics. He had a front-row seat in watching a bad-faith Republican opposition kill a much-needed initiative, and then use Democrats’ failure to deliver to win at the polls. He of all people should know that this story never ends well.

The question is: Can he and Democrats learn from the past?

– David Sirota
Excerpted from “There’s Really No Need to Compromise, Joe
January 26, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
Democrats Should Act As If They Won the Election – Jamelle Bouie (The New York Times, January 26, 2021).
Take Their Calls, Mr. President, But Don't Take Their Bait – Marianne Williamson (Newsweek, January 26, 2021).
Democrats’ Choice: End the Filibuster or Watch McConnell Win (Again) – Patrick Ries (Rolling Stone, January 25, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Acknowledging Where We Are
Norman Solomon: Quote of the Day – December 16, 2020
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”

Image: Kristen Solberg.

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