It must be said that lambert’s argument that single payer was there if Obama wanted it is a minor classic of the genre. Every vacuous pundit cliche that can be used to ignore concrete realities of power and institutional structure is there — “mandate,” “Overton Window,” the bully pulpit — you know, all the tools that allowed Clinton to ram health care reform right down Congress’s throat in 1993. We’ve been through this silliness before and I won’t reiterate the arguments here.
There are a couple of unique contributions, however. First, lambert wishes you to know that 0% the blame for states denying Medicaid expansion funds should go to Republicans, even though the denial of funds by Republican state governments was made possible because Republicans on the Supreme Court struck down the provisions of the ACA designed to make this impossible. (Clearly, Obama should have used the political capital of his mandate to move the Overtron Window right under the bus and removed the Republican appointees from the Supreme Court.) You will also be informed that Obama invented federalism, which involves treating people in different states differently, making him history’s second greatest monster after only Franklin D. Roosevelt. (if you hate the geographic discrimination that Barack Obama unilaterally created, you must really hate the New Deal, which combined geographic discrimination with extensive race and gender discrimination.)
Still, this trademark move is my favorite bit:
There’s no point blaming the Republicans, whether in Congress or in the state houses, for unforced strategic errors by Democrats (if errors they were indeed, and not simply corruption; in 2008 Obama — unlike She Who Cannot Be Named — never advocated for a universal plan in the first place).
People who argue that Republicans should be elected until such a time as Bernie Sanders could occupy the White House and the median votes of both Houses of Congress are making a really dumb argument, but it’s at least internally consistent. Arguing that Obama is disgraceful corporate sellout…while arguing that Hillary Clinton is the reincarnation of Eugene Debs, however, takes things to a different level. In this case, it’s particularly good because (as you’ll be reminded if you click through the links) the dispute between Clinton and Obama over health care was whether the plan should have a mandate. (Obama’s pandering on this was wrong and he deserved Krugman’s criticism, of course.) So, the evidence that Obama is far to the right of Hillary Clinton is…that Obama ultimately supported Clinton’s health care plan. A unique perspective, I must concede.