Thanks, Howard

Mike Enzi quotes Howard Dean. Predictable.

Listening to the Republicans rant about health care on the Senate floor.  Mike Enzi cites Howard Dean, which puts him in the same “useful idiot” category as David Broder and the editors of the Washington Post.

All the Republicans seem to agree on two things:

1. Heath care spending must be cut.

2.  Anything that actually reduces spending necessarily hurts either providers or consumers, and is therefore an evil Democrat scheme.

It’s also astounding to hear Republicans complaining about not being able to spend Christmas with their families, when all they have to do to get home is STFU and let the majority vote.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Thanks, Howard”

  1. As long as the swing Senators and Congresspeople are the centrists, not the liberals, Howard Dean's rejection of the bill only helps it pass. As Atrios keeps saying, it's only too bad that the left couldn't have rallied against Medicare buy-in.

    And in terms of public opinion and the mainstream media, I think it's also a plus. When well-respected and symbolically important liberals — but ones without votes or constituencies — campaign against it, it becomes a "centrist" compromise bill instead of a leftist dream. We have a debate about whether it goes too far or not far enough, instead of a debate about how much liberals are overreaching. I don't think Mike Enzi's speech on the floor of the Senate changes minds either way.

    I don't know whether Dean is sincere in his criticism, but I do think it helps — and I think that's why he and some other prominent liberals (without votes or constituencies!) are willing to be so vocal. Of course, we'll never know the truth…

    (Obviously this logic falls apart if progressive Senators or Congressmen actually change their minds about the bill. But I'm not worried about that.)

  2. … And maybe you already agree with me 100%, but have to pretend not to in order to make Dean's position seem sincere to others! So really I can't trust anything you say about the matter on your blog. Just wink twice if you I'm onto you. 😉

  3. You're right that the carping doesn't hurt the bill's chances of passage. But Dean and the "netroots" aren't without a constituency. We need their followers energized, not demoralized, for 2010.

  4. It's hard for me to say anything bad about Dr. Dean. It's in large part due to his hard work and good stewardship as DNC Chair that we're where we are now, in possession of the White House, large majorities in the House and Senate and on the brink of passing the most significant piece of progressive legislation in decades.

    For his troubles, he got the bum's rush out the door and has generally been pretty gracious about it. If he's going to carp a bit now about the Senate bill, I think he's entitled.

  5. Is Howard Dean a "useful idiot", or just useful? I don't know yet. It depends on his rhetoric after the thing has passed.

    Pressure from the left was essential throughout the entire process. If the D's capitulated on the public option before the very end, the bill would have been worse than it is. (Look at banking reform, for an example of fast capitulation.) The pressure from the left–including public option purism–kept the centrist Ds in line. Most of them wanted some kind of health care bill, at very least because they knew the consequences of failing to produce something. Dean-like statements caught them between two crossfires, which kept them from retreating under pressure from the right.

    If Dean goes into recriminatory mode after this is passed, he is just a jackass. If he uses health care as a poster child for the "more and better Democrats" meme, he is being constructive.

  6. Mark's just a bit behind. Dean has been carefully calibrating what he says based on what's happening day to day. On Meet the Press on Sunday, he said that given the latest changes in the Senate bill, he'd advocate that it be passed and then hopefully fixed in conference.

    Gregory tried to trip him up the same way Mark does, by playing a clip of McCain ostensibly agreeing with Dean. Dean pointed out that McCain's desire to kill the bill was for entirely different reasons than his. "He wouldn't be the first person who twisted my words around and used them for something I had no intention of endorsing," he said, "which is the Republicans' behavior with this bill."

    Unfortunate that some Obamaites are trying to twist Dean's words as well. Hmm, does that make them "useful idiots"?

  7. Mark Kleiman says:

    "You’re right that the carping doesn’t hurt the bill’s chances of passage. But Dean and the “netroots” aren’t without a constituency. We need their followers energized, not demoralized, for 2010."

    At last. Bush, Cheney and Rove might have gone too far with their play to the base strategy, but a 'f*ck the base' strategy has more problems. And with the GOP gearing up for a backlash mid-terms, a lot of independent voters who voted Democratic in '08 will be lost. And as so, so many have pointed out, a negotiating strategy of making as many concessions up front as possible doesn't work very well, given ill-meaning opponents (and by that I mean L-maggot + the 'centrists').

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