Krugman, Cockburn: Nixon to Left of Kennedy, Obama

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Yet some folks today are still drawn to cults and anti-cults of personality, and still need to learn the basics.

Krugman (and Cockburn, who compares Teddy and Tricky on health care politics to Teddy's great detriment below fold) writes well on this 'obvious except to the deliberately deluding themselves' matter, and agrees with me (his second reason) on why. Nixon was a product of different, mildly more liberal, times. And Kennedy and Obama are products of these times, when politics with great purity involves serving a mountain of self-interested corporate money and bamboozling and toying with we the people.

If people get my comment header below, then looking back on Tricky Dick is enlightening about the primary problem of our time, the nearly complete loss of power by everyone except big corporations and the wealthy. (Why do some of you take our eyes off that, or (selectively) pretend it is not happening even when your favorites take huge quantities of corporate dough?)

Nixon the most liberal president we've had since Nixon

Those were different times: EPA, wage-and-price controls, detente with China/USSR, and even got us out of Vietnam.

'Sock it to me!'

by: fairleft @ Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 15:21:05 PM EDT

No doubt Nixon would've been a Dick (Cheney) in these times, no doubt about it, but, well read on, it's good Krugman:

Missing Richard Nixon
by Paul Krugman

. . .

. . . the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system's ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.

As many people have pointed out, Nixon's proposal for health care reform looks a lot like Democratic proposals today. In fact, in some ways it was stronger. Right now, Republicans are balking at the idea of requiring that large employers offer health insurance to their workers; Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.

Nixon also embraced tighter regulation of insurers, calling on states to "approve specific plans, oversee rates, ensure adequate disclosure, require an annual audit and take other appropriate measures." No illusions there about how the magic of the marketplace solves all problems.

So what happened to the days when a Republican president could sound so nonideological, and offer such a reasonable proposal?

[1., bullshit right-wing fringe reason here]

But there's another reason health care reform is much harder now than it would have been under Nixon: the vast expansion of corporate influence.

We tend to think of the way things are now, with a huge army of lobbyists permanently camped in the corridors of power, with corporations prepared to unleash misleading ads and organize fake grass-roots protests against any legislation that threatens their bottom line, as the way it always was. But our corporate-cash-dominated system is a relatively recent creation, dating mainly from the late 1970s.

And now that this system exists, reform of any kind has become extremely difficult. That's especially true for health care, where growing spending has made the vested interests far more powerful than they were in Nixon's day. The health insurance industry, in particular, saw its premiums go from 1.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1970 to 5.5 percent in 2007, so that a once minor player has become a political behemoth, one that is currently spending $1.4 million a day lobbying Congress. . . .

And what about other challenges? Every desperately needed reform I can think of, from controlling greenhouse gases to restoring fiscal balance, will have to run the same gantlet of lobbying and lies.

It would be nice if readers didn't restrict themselves to the preliminary generalizations provided by Krugman in the establishment press, but read on, to Chris Hedges' This Isn't Reform, It's Robbery. That's where you'll find out in concrete what's going with the health reform bills: reform is essentially about increasing profits for the health care corporations who contribute very heavily to Congressional and Presidential campaigns. It would be very surprising if things were going in any other direction, of course. If a President were to go that other direction, away from his contributors and toward the people's interests, we would've seen some sign of it by now.

* * * *

Here's the Alex Cockburn's piece I spoke of at the outset of this diary. This is only one, the most related to the issue of the day, of several 'anti-Kennedy truth machine' highlights:

Teddy Kennedy the Hollow Champion

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

. . . If it hadn't been for Kennedy, a lot more people  would have health coverage . In 1971 Nixon, heading into his relection bid, put up the legislative  ancestor of all recent Democratic proposals, but Kennedy shot it down, preferring to have this as his campaign plank sometime in the political future.

After reelection, Nixon did promote a health plan in his 1974 State of the Union speech, with a call for universal access to health insurance. He followed up with his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on February  6, 1974. Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored  insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance. Kennedy went through the motions of cooperation, but in the end the AFL-CIO,  with a covert nudge from Kennedy, killed the bill because Nixon was vanishing under the Watergate scandal and the Democrats did not want to hand  the President  and the Republicans  one of their signature issues.  Now the Republicans scream "socialism" at exactly what Nixon proposed and Kennedy killed off  38 years ago, in 1971.

Tags: Cockburn, Kennedy, krugman, obama (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

This is not

what Krugman says at all.

by DTOzone 2009-09-01 02:23PM | 0 recs
You could put it this way:

'Objectively, Nixon was (way) to the left in the 70s of where Kennedy and Obama were/are today.'

by fairleft2 2009-09-01 02:52PM | 0 recs
No, you really can't

pretty much Nixon's proposed healthcare bill is what Ron Wyden is proposing which many liberals hate, including, IIRC, you.

So no, objectively one cannot say Nixon was further to the left than Kennedy/Obama is today.

Krugman's point was bipartisanship was possible during Nixon's time and we could've gotten something passed to build on back then...today it's a lot harder with extreme partisanship and the power of corporations.

by DTOzone 2009-09-01 03:49PM | 0 recs
Don't lie about Krugman

One of Krugman's explicit points is that in the 70s "policy decisions weren't as warped by corporate cash as they are now." Politicians are warped too by same; they are the people who receive the cash, get warped, and pass warped-by-corporate-cash laws. Since corporate cash pushes politics strongly to the right, Nixon was objectively to the left of where Kennedy was and Obama is in 2009.

And we see this by looking at health care proposals and plans. Nixon's health care plan was to the left, according to Krugman, of any of the current bills in the House and Senate, and likely much to the left of Obama's favorite but unwritten bill, the Senate Finance Committee bill. Kennedy would've aggressively supported any of the three currently existing bills.

What I support is irrelevant to the diary's point, but if the insurance subsidies are big, cuts to Medicare are small, and we can fudge on the right-wing 'revenue-neutral b.s., I basically would support any of the bills. So, I don't know at this point.

by fairleft2 2009-09-02 08:26AM | 0 recs
Nixon to Left of Kennedy, Obama

Isn't it a little fucked up for Nixon's resume of liberal accomplishments to include "got us out of Vietnam"?

by Steve M 2009-09-02 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Nixon to Left of Kennedy, Obama

It's frankly disgusting.

by Jess81 2009-09-03 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Nixon to Left of Kennedy, Obama

Nixon did promote a health plan in his 1974 State of the Union speech, with a call for universal access to health insurance. He followed up with his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on February  6, 1974. Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored  insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance.

If the above bill were to come out of the Senate, it would be pilloried as corporate welfare.  Perhaps correctly.  But half of the left blogosphere is getting ready burn Obama in effigee in the expectation that the final bill resembles what you describe.

by Jess81 2009-09-03 05:29PM | 0 recs

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