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In CNN debate, Klobuchar trashes latest Obamacare repeal effort, talks up bipartisanship

If you needed break from discussing whether football players have a right to kneel during the national anthem, you could have done worse last night than watch CNN’s Town Hall debate on health care, especially if you are a Minnesotan. Our senior U.S. senator, Amy Klobuchar, was assigned and played the role of the moderate liberal in the debate, and did a good job of trashing the Graham-Cassidy-repeal-replace-Obamacare bill that may come to a vote soon in the U.S. Senate.

The stakes seemed low because Graham-Cassidy had been pronounced all-but-dead before the debate began. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, the authors of the bill, showed up and behaved themselves but brought only two pretty lame arguments, namely:

1. Obamacare is terrible (I believe they managed to avoid the fashionable Republican words “collapsing” and “imploding,” although Graham definitely called it “failing”); and:

2. Just give the (federally collected) money to the state governments and let them run health care; if you don’t like it, it’s easier to vote your state officials out.

Klobuchar’s teammate for the evening was Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, whose arguments contained an internal tension, namely that Obamacare is better than Graham-Cassidy but that single-payer (aka “Medicare-for-all”) would be even better. In a nod toward gradualism, Sanders suggested last night that a good step would be to lower the age of Medicare from 65 to 55. Another idea he advocated — in order to reduce costs— was to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Klobuchar has not joined the “Medicare-for-all” bandwagon, but she does favor Medicare using its bulk-purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for drugs, and also favors a measure that would bar drug companies from paying off manufacturers of cheaper, generic drugs to stay out of the U.S. market. Klobuchar is the cosponsor (along with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa) of a bipartisan bill to do that, and she emphasized last night the importance of working across party lines. She also noted that “the Republican governor of Ohio” – that would be former presidential candidate John Kasich – is also publicly opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Bipartisanship was a theme for Klobuchar all evening. She talked up the efforts by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Health Care Committee, and ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington state to work up a bipartisan batch of smaller reforms, although there is little evidence so far that the effort is thriving.

Late in the debate, Graham said Democrats are not sincere about wanting bipartisanship. His proof? That the leader of Senate Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, had told Republicans not to bother coming into the room to discuss bipartisan changes until they take their demand to repeal the Affordable Care Act off the table. Maybe I’m blind to Graham’s logic, but I would assume that Schumer is saying that he is open to bipartisan approaches to making Obamacare work better, but not to repealing it.

Cassidy also said during the debate that he had sought Democratic co-sponsors for his bill, but couldn’t find any. Of course, he didn’t say whether he had offered any substantive concessions to attract Democrats. (Did I mention that Cassidy is a physician? He did — about 20 times.)

Soon the calculations over bipartisanship may change dramatically. As you have probably read over recent weeks, there are quirks in Senate rules that make it possible for Senate Republicans to pass a health care bill with just 51 votes (or even 50 with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaker) if they can get it done by Sept. 30. The quirk is that if they attach the bill to the so-called budget “reconciliation process,” filibusters are not permitted. The Republicans hold a 52-48 majority. But over the course of last week, two Republican senators (Rand Paul of Kentucky and Graham’s best friend, John McCain) had announced they would vote no.

When CNN set up this debate, there was still some Republican hope for at least a 50-50-plus-Pence vote. But earlier Monday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, confirmed that she would vote no (hence the lower stakes).

Unless someone changes their mind — or unless Republicans decide to change the rules — they will miss the window, which could mean that the advent of Republican control of both the executive and legislative branches would nonetheless not produce Republicans’ long-promised repeal of Obamacare.

Lastly, in the age of Trump it’s worth noting that the 90-minute CNN debate was extremely courteous and could even be called substantive. The senators did not call each other poop-heads even once and declared great mutual respect. (Both Republicans declared Sanders to be “the most honest” of all senators, which sounds like a compliment, and partially is, but is also code for all-Democrats-are-socialists-but-only-Bernie admits-it.) Still, in these times, we have to notice civility when we stumble on it.

Comments (52)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/26/2017 - 09:08 am.

    The reconciliation process can be re-adopted next January, allowing passage of the same or similar bill with a simple majority. McCain may not be a factor then, due to health issues, or may actually vote for the present bill in new clothes–he said he would have voted for the current bill if it had followed “regular order”.

    The desperation to dismantle Obamacare continues–replace it with something, anything…

    The problem is the uncertainty continues and the tattering of the safety net continues. The issues of developing affordable, effective health-care.

    I always thought that the last stop in the healthcare debate would be for the GOP to throw up their hands and turn it all over to the states to “work it out”. States-rights ya know. A thousand flowers bloom, etc (or at least 50).

  2. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/26/2017 - 09:50 am.

    Extremely disappointed….

    I was extremely disappointed the “performance” of Senator Amy K.

    She offered little in terms of concrete proposals.

    She refuses to admit the “failure” of Obamacare. Of course she cannot admit failure because she voted and campaigned for the lower premiums, deductibles, and keep your doctor “dissimulations” of Obama.

    I suppose she is silently advocating to “fix” Obamacare with more “Obamacare” and even larger payoffs and subsidies to large corporate insurance companies.

    Her constant story telling were just commercials for Obamacare and shows how out-of-touch she is with many Americans who are truly suffering under Obamacare. It is easy to tell stories about the disaster of Obamacare – if you want to.

    Old Bernie was the most honest. He knows what he wants and advocates for his solutions. Amy does not know what she wants, offers no concrete proposals, and tells stories rather than proposed solutions.

    I still do not know specifically Amy K. desires to “fix” Obamacare. Maybe one day she will have the courage to be a leader with concrete proposals concerning the entire issue of Obamacare instead of a story-teller about this issue.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/26/2017 - 12:56 pm.

      The failure of Obamacare is the result of almost a decade of doing as much as possible to sabotage. The hypocrisy of the bill’s sponsor is that, when passed to the states via this bill, the states will supposedly re-create Obamacare protections with better coverage and lower premiums with less money.

      And they also want a magic pony for their birthday.

      If pre-existing coverage protection was so universally desired and promoted, why wasn’t it universal before Obamacare ? This is the real answer to what would happen when health insurance is left to the individual states–especially when there is a shrinking pool of money with no real attempt to reduce costs.

      The crisis that needs to be attacked is the rising cost of health-care, with the lowest hanging fruit being the percent of spending burned up in the insurance process.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/26/2017 - 02:22 pm.

      Republicans want to

      ‘fix’ the Affordable Care Act the way you ‘fix’ dogs.
      In their terms, ‘failure’ is covering more people and ‘success’ would be denying millions of people coverage that they can afford.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 09/26/2017 - 04:57 pm.


      Correct me if I’m wrong. Senator Klobuchar is not your Party’s problem. Blaming the Democrats for the GOP’s problems has nothing to do with the Democrats. The GOP can’t fix the problems until they admit they have problems. The blame game is nothing but a self-inflicted wound.

      After eight years of voting to repeal and replace Obamacare over 70 times, you would have thought the Republicans would have had a viable plan they could have approved on day one of having TOTAL CONTROL in Washington. Did you get that, TOTAL CONTROL? Remember the President said the GOP would have a good plan on day one. The President said, “Who knew healthcare was this complicated?” The answer is that everyone knew except the Republicans. That’s 70+ self-inflicted GOP wounds that has nothing to do with the Democrats. It turns out the Republicans never had a concrete proposal, any proposal, of any form. The GOP has spent the last 9 months trying to concoct a plan that can pass muster with their own people. They can’t even get over that barrier. They are not even close to having a viable plan. It is a GOP self-inflicted wound that has nothing to do with the Democrats. This is what the leaderless GOP looks like. Paul Ryan in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate cannot control their members to get ANYTHING passed. Their party is nothing but a disparate group of undisciplined people without a common goal other than to obstruct. The Republican Party has forgotten how to lead.

      The number of Republicans choosing not to run next time continues to grow because of their frustration with their own dysfunctional party. The Democrats are not the cause of the GOP’s SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS. Nice try but zero points.

  3. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 09/26/2017 - 11:00 am.

    ObamaCares could have been better…

    Difficult to imagine the deceit from repubs regarding ObamaCares, who have done their level best to undermine, destroy it, or weaken it. We knew from the beginning that it needed work…but instead of trying to make it better….repubs…work to destroy it.

    Quite obvious they don’t care about us. Health issues can destroy everyones fiscal health no matter how thrifty they are. We should be able to afford to go to the doctor, as well as afford prescriptions, but todays repub party doesn’t seem to care about that…but if you pay attention…they just massively increased military spending to protect the world for free and are planning large tax cuts for the mega corporations and wealthy.

    Keep in mind that these corporations that they think need tax cuts have been having record profits as they stash these profits outside the country.

    It is also interesting that because of repub attempts to repeal ObamaCares, they won’t hold town hall meetings any longer because people are so mad at them over this issue. Perhaps they should…for once…listen to the people…and help us with affordable healthcare and prescriptions…but I understand why they don’t…they’ve received lots of money from the health industry.

  4. Submitted by Mike Downing on 09/26/2017 - 12:14 pm.

    Talks moderate but voted left wing liberal…

    Senator Klobuchar is a nice person with a great PR campaign which is very effective. She talks like a moderate but votes like a left wing liberal and therefore ignores 46% of Minnesotans.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2017 - 12:34 pm.


      Just out of curiosity: When Norm Coleman was Senator, did you complain that he “ignored” the 51% of Minnesotans who did not vote for him?

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/26/2017 - 12:49 pm.

      What Percentage Of

      Americans does Don Trump ignore?

      What percentage of cheese heads doe Gov. Walker ignore?

      What percentage of his constituents does Kurt Daudt ignore?

      And just how does one define “ignoring constituents”?

      This has become the new conservative canard, and it’s tiresome already.

    • Submitted by David LaPorte on 09/26/2017 - 03:14 pm.

      Amy won in a landslide

      Senator Klobuchar won her reelection by 65% to 30.5% over Republican Kurt Bills. I’m sure that some people don’t like her, but Minnesotans do, by a 2:1 margin.

      She must be doing something right beside being “nice”. If she was out of synch with her constituents, Bills would have used that against her and he’d be our senator now.

  5. Submitted by Tom Johnson on 09/26/2017 - 12:31 pm.


    Klobuchar’s call for “bipartisanship” is somewhere between insane and absurd.

    The Republican Party has been aggressively attacking the living standards of the vast majority of the people of the United States at least since Reagan’s election in 1980. Of course, the DLC-wing of the Democratic Party has been complicit in that. (Not so coincidentally, the DLC – partially funded by the right-wing Koch Brothers and other billionaires and corporations – formed in 1983 with Bill Clinton as its first chair).

    And of course both parties have been in bipartisan lock-step in the permanent U.S. wars against the world that guarantee austerity domestically.


    When will the people of Minnesota wake up and see that Amy Klobuchar has never been and will never be a DFL-Democrat?

    • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 09/26/2017 - 09:49 pm.


      In my opinion, the best comment here. The best example of “bipartisanship” is when only a handful of senators voted against the obscene increase in military spending, with virtually no debate and no questions of “How are we going to pay for it?” Of course, the corporate media ignored this large increase, being cheerleaders for the military industrial complex

  6. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 09/26/2017 - 03:03 pm.

    A debate with substance

    Last night’s debate between civil members of he Senate may have served an a bit of an education for lots of people on what Obamacare offers and how horrible the GOP last-minute Hail Mary effort to eliminate it and substitute a state-based system is. CNN did nice job of gathering Americans in their Washington studio who had real-life medical stories to tell, like Amy Klobuchar’s (stories can educate, and there’s nothing wrong with telling one’s story, even if Cassidy tried repeatedly to put her down for that). They all seemed to support everyone having health insurance, and did not favor the Graham-Cassidy offering.

    Sanders and Klobuchar mentioned tons of specifics to change and improve Obamacare! That was hard to miss–you had to WANT not to hear their suggestions about controlling drug costs, controlling and lowering premiums and deductibles and co-pays. Interesting to me was how positive the two Democrats were, and how they totally avoided Donald Trump! Breath of fresh air.

    The more the people understand what Obamacare is (and that is it the same thing as the Affordable Care Act, which lots didn’t seem to realize), the more they want to keep it, and tweak it to get rid of its glitches. At least. But maybe the ultimate winner will be Sanders’ drive for Medicare for all!

    Educate, inform with facts. And get to work on the many avenues that Sanders and Klobuchar mentioned last night.

  7. Submitted by John Edwards on 09/26/2017 - 03:03 pm.

    Hilarious hypocrisy

    The Democrats rammed through the now-imploding (for you, Eric) Obamacare legislation without any Republican support. Moreover, they bribed two Democratic senators Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu with the infamous Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Purchase to get it passed.

    If only Amy, Eric or any other liberal extremist back then had spoken up in favor of bi-partisan input, we would not have the difficult task of replacing the wretched legislation known as ObamaCare. Moreover, they would have credibility when they raise the issue today.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 09/26/2017 - 03:36 pm.

      Completely and unequivocably false

      The ACA included 161 Republican-backed amendments. The idea that it did not have any bi-partisan input is 100 percent false.

      There is no comparison between the process today and the process for the passage of the ACA. None whatsoever.

      • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 09/26/2017 - 05:38 pm.

        The ACA only needs tweaking…

        and that is because the REPs and vested interests and paid lobbyists were allowed to contribute input, making it more cumbersome and challenging that it needed to be. But that was the price to pay for a bi-partisan product that all could sign off on.

        But now those same parties keep disparaging the ACA, insisting it is broken, dying, awful and worse.
        Say what???? I smell a set up…..

        I won’t rehash the entire ACA (Obamacare) story, others above have made many relevant points.

        But I will add that many other prosperous countries provide affordable, accessible healthcare to their people without all of the drama and political game playing and name calling. So why can’t the USA??

        Also, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over…yet expecting a different result. The approach by the REPs is a waste of time, money and resources. It benefits no one. And it certainly doesn’t make the REPs look like mature, competent, professionals who know how to do their jobs.

        Finally, everyone remember: this is not about healthcare for the masses, to the REPs. Oh, no.
        It remains the goal of the REPs to take all of the large amounts of $$$ allocated to healthcare for the people and instead give it to the already wealthy in the form of still more massive tax cuts, which are both unneeded and unnecessary:( And if doing that leaves the masses uninsured or paying hugely increased premiums, well so be it…..

        And the next DC battle? “Tomorrow, Donald Trump will unveil his tax plan―a plan that will give away trillions of dollars to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations and will do next to nothing to help working families.

        And how will they pay for that plan? By massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public education.

        Trump’s budget would cut $1.9 TRILLION from Medicaid and other healthcare spending.

        Paul Ryan’s budget would do that and slash Medicare by $500 billion.”

      • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 09/27/2017 - 08:02 am.

        It was purely partisan

        The big thing about Franken winning his election was touted at all levels by Democrats as being the 60th senator so that they could pass any form of healthcare without 1 Republican vote. That happened and there was zero bi-partisanship to which Pelosi is famously known to have said, ‘Elections have consequences.’
        And to say that single payer is the best system is completely out of touch with reality because it has never worked anywhere in the world. Everywhere that has single payer is actually a misnomer because they also have a secondary private insurance for those that can afford it, thus creating a two-class system, not even to mention of the long wait that many have to go through and the enormous economic strain of cost. You’d think the Democrats would not want a 2 tiered system, but everything they propose creates a further divide between the haves and have not.

        • Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/27/2017 - 12:57 pm.

          Look to Norway –as FDR once said

          Since Democrats are all about liberty and choices I’m sure most would have no problem with the two tiered system such as they have had in Norway for a couple generations now. The public system works just fine: critics of its deficiencies have a voice and the administrators are accountable. Most use it and are satisfied. For those with money they can devote to private providers — which are allowed as alternatives to public clinics — they’re happy and more power to them.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/28/2017 - 07:22 am.

            Hi Roy,Problems with looking

            Hi Roy,

            Problems with looking at Norway as a model:

            A population about the same as the Dallas metro region.

            Culturally homogenous.

            Subsidized by oil revenue.

            Couldn’t find a more obvious case of apples vs. oranges.

            • Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/29/2017 - 10:22 am.

              Is cultural non-homogeneity a bridge too far?

              Happy to try it out in Minnesota with its smaller population.

              Non-oil states Denmark and Sweden and others have similar health care standards.

              Now “culturally homogenous,” there you may have something, since Norway adopted universal health care when it was pretty much like its postcard image. Perhaps that should be part of the discussion in upcoming debates over health care. “No, we can’t have universal health care here like any other industrialized nation because, after all, we aren’t culturally homogenous.”

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/26/2017 - 03:42 pm.

      Hilariously, you have to remember the dismal and dropping state of insurance cost and exclusions before Obama, add in the prime goal of Republicans was to make Obama fail, roll on the floor laughing about how Republicans turned their back on the former Republican plan instituted in Massachusetts by Romney, and then chuckle about how despite a decade of decrying and undercutting Obamacare, the only solutions that the GOP has is to try to do something equivalent with nothing.


      Hilarious hypocrisy,

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/26/2017 - 04:11 pm.

      Liberal extremist?

      Klobuchar is center left…barely. As for the “Cornhusker Kickback” the measure was nixed. I’m sure you were equally outraged by the attempts to buy Murkowski’s vote for Graham-Cassidy.

      • Submitted by Tom Johnson on 09/26/2017 - 11:39 pm.

        Hardly Center Left

        Despite her “Minnesota Nice” demeanor Klobuchar is center/right on domestic issues and a hard-right neocon on global issues.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 09/26/2017 - 04:19 pm.

      Anyone who places the words “liberal extremist”

      next to each other is writing for personal catharsis, not to contribute to the discourse.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/27/2017 - 08:15 am.

        I agree completely, Charles. “Liberal”, as an adjective, stands and conveys the message clearly on it’s own.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/28/2017 - 02:37 pm.


          NO adjective stands by itself. At most, the referent may be assumed rather than stated.
          A modifier must modify something.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/26/2017 - 06:48 pm.

      “Rammed Through???”

      It was a plan from the conservative (hey MinnPost, how about being able to italicize?) Heritage Foundation plan. It was their own plan, until McConnell et al decided on the night of the inauguration to oppose everything Obama proposed.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 09/27/2017 - 12:01 pm.

        not really

        Liberal dems always try to blame republicans for their bad policy. If you really read the Heritage Foundation plan, circa 1992?, you would see it isn’t even close to the ACA. The ACA took it and put it on government steroids. Obama said he took the ACA from The heritage Foundations plan but alas he is a politician and they will say anything. Hard to make the case if you really read both.

  8. Submitted by Joe Musich on 09/26/2017 - 09:06 pm.

    My personal …..

    highlight was Sanders calling out Graham for his continual red baiting use of the term Socialzed medicine. Sanders successfully drew the difference between single payer and socialized healthcare. And all the time accentuating Healthcare as a right. Can’t go wrong with that. I think that Sanders and Klobuchar almost came across as good cop and better cop. She accentuated the logical consequences of killing the ACA for what it dies successfully protect and he for focusing on how the future being better with a single payer approach. The other two were as exciting as mud hardening in a drought.

  9. Submitted by William Duncan on 09/26/2017 - 10:43 pm.

    She is a neo-liberal who does not want to upset the official Health Care profits apple cart. (And since when would a liberal vote to continue to give Trump unlimited war powers and an increased war budget? Oh right, a neoliberal friendly with the neocons, not wanting to upset official military industrial complex profits. Otherwise known as bipartisanship.)

  10. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/27/2017 - 08:09 am.

    I didn’t watch this debate, so I have only the clip the author chose to include to judge from. I’m going to assume the author chose one that best illustrates the point he is trying to make.

    Maybe I missed a nuance which is obvious to leftists, but I didn’t see an effective argument from Sen. Klobuchar against repealing Obamacare, much less a “trashing”

    Sen Klobuchar is right, though. The demise of Obamacare will hurt Minnesotans more than citizens of states that wisely stood out of the quagmire, but they voted for Mark Dayton and he jumped in with both feet and ducked Minnesota’s head under.

    As has been stated so clearly, elections have consequences.

    • Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 09/27/2017 - 10:19 am.

      One really gets tired of right-wingers who say they didn’t watch the debate (or read the article or book or listen to the podcast, etc.), but then have tons of opinions on the subject.

      Willed ignorance seems to be the operating principle for Republicans and the alt-right.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/28/2017 - 09:36 am.

        My comments were directed to the story posted by Eric Black, which I read, and the video clip he included, which I watched.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 09/27/2017 - 02:49 pm.

      So . . .

      Are you saying you were in favor of implementing the Graham/Cassidy plan or any of the other “repeal and replace” plans the House or Senate have come up with to this point?

      I may have missed it, but it seems you (and just about everyone else who’s saying Obamacare is a disaster) are more opposed to the existing system than anything else. If you (and other ACA or “Medicare for all” detractors) are not in favor of any of the replacement plans that have been introduced so far, what do you (all) suggest and why do you think it would improve the US health care situation?

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/27/2017 - 07:15 pm.

        I’m in favor of repealing Obamacare completely; it’s simply broken beyond repair, and any reforms will be throwing good money after bad. Time to take our losses and move on.

        We can craft new legislation addressing pre-existing conditions and caps, and address tort reform, cross state sales and other reforms easier once the current disaster no longer presents the distraction to progress.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/28/2017 - 02:34 pm.


          will you (without magic wand waving) make it more affordable and thus increase the number of people with health care, rather than decreasing it as all the GOP proposals so far have done?
          And I won’t even go into raising the deficit.
          So far, it’s what George HW Bush called ‘voodoo economics’.
          It’s easy to state what the outcomes will be when you don’t have to worry about actually achieving them. So far, none of the proposals have passed a CBO analysis.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2017 - 02:37 pm.

            A Simple Task

            Republicans have called on the Healthcare Gnome. His plan goes something like this:

            1. Repeal Obamacare.
            2. ?
            3. Everything is better.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/28/2017 - 03:28 pm.

            I’m in favor of allowing Medicare negotiate drug prices. The shielding of big Pharma is disgraceful, and supported on both sides of the aisle.

            I’m in favor of mandating hospitals and health care professionals post their fees. Per proceedure, hourly, whatever. We need to know what we’re buying.

            I’m in favor of “loser pays” tort law. Egregious cases will have no lack of lawyers begging to take them, and hot coffee spillers will be on their own. I’m so sick of seeing all these commercials from tort lawyers collecting a class action together I cannot politely express it.

            People make mistakes…even doctors. We shouldn’t have to shoulder the cost of rent seeking lawyers luxurious lifestyles.

            It’s not the government’s job to increase access to health care; I checked. If government uses the regulatory powers they have, and clean up their own yards, access will increase naturally as the market expands.

            After that, we, as free and independent people will do what free and independent people do; make choices and decisions for ourselves.

        • Submitted by ian wade on 09/28/2017 - 03:56 pm.

          “Broken beyond repair?”

          Nonsense. Numerous healthcare CEO’s and economists have weighed in on the tweaks that are needed to stabilize the ACA. The “ACA collapsing” meme is nothing but GOP hyperbole.

  11. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 09/27/2017 - 09:41 am.

    There was no “there” there

    As the saying goes, with Graham-Cassidy, there was no “there” there. To Eric’s point #2, all they do is move the problem to the states with the ridiculous assumption that an individual state will have greater negotiating power than the federal government. And the dubious assumption that a state bureaucrat is significantly better than a federal bureaucrat.

    Ironically, the ONLY examples they gave of what states can do if given the freedom are examples of what states are currently doing under the ACA.

    But there was an instance of truth. More than one time, Lindsay Graham spoke to the budget impact. That’s what this bill does – caps the future impact on the budget and dumps the problem on the states. The ACA did some things to actually start to reduce the cost of care but frankly didn’t go far enough. This bill goes backward.

    The image in my mind is “Wrong Way” Riegels bragging that he crossed the goal line.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/27/2017 - 12:04 pm.


    Bipartisanship isn’t “bad” per se, but Democrats need to understand that it’s not a substitute for winning elections and championing the best idea and policies. Bipartisanship is fine when acceptable compromise emerges from it… but it’s means to an end, not an end in-and-of itself. If and when bipartisan compromise can’t yield the results we need, you just have to win elections and acquire the necessary power to bet legislation passed without bipartisan support. You need to fight for policies even if you don’t have bipartisan support at the moment.

  13. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/27/2017 - 01:34 pm.

    Conservatives or reactionaries?

    The idea of bipartisanship highlights the difference between two types of right-wingers: conservatives and reactionaries, both of whom are confusingly called “conservatives”.

    True conservatives recognize that big change brought by democratic means can be tinkered with and reshaped but nevertheless accepted because it’s what the people voted for. That’s bipartisanship. Generations later most people won’t recall which party led the way (see Medicare and Social Security)..

    Reactionaries persist in degrading the fruits of democracy because they want to nullify it for their own nefarious purposes. Demonize it to death while refusing to improve upon it, promise to repeal and replace it for years and years and finally have to admit they have nothing that is in the realm of political possibilities except obstinance.

    It’s curious how in an age filled with reactionary politics one rarely ever hears the term.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/28/2017 - 10:32 am.

      Reactionary politics…

      Reactionary’s have to disguise their true intentions, which is why it’s an inherently deceptive form of politics. Unfortunately our media penchant for pseudo-objectivity and the illusion of “balance” actually promotes reactionary politics by normalizing it rather than exposing it’s extremes. And it’s weird that the so-call “balanced” media has historically always been less reluctant to label politics from the right as “extremist” than they have those on the left. To this day for instance Tim McVeigh is rarely described as a right wing extremist, while ANTIFA protesters and “Anarchists” in Seattle are routinely labeled as extremists. This tendency is a result of neoliberal dominance of the Democratic Party. Both parties identify anything more radical than “centrism” as “leftist”, while right wing radicals are just “Republicans”.

      There’s basically an institutional blind spot for extremist who affiliate with the Republican Party, and it’s obviously a very dangerous blind spot.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 09/28/2017 - 11:01 am.

      Roy, I’d disagree with your schematic.

      I view the essential tasks of civic society to be the ongoing work to build mutual trust from the clan steadily outward across lines of race, creed and nationality; the slow building and careful husbanding of collective institutions, norms and capacities for action that sustain our economic and social life; and the exercise of tremendous care to preserve the ecological health of the planet, on which everything else depends. This is a true conservative position, and lies way to the left on the conventional political spectrum.

      There are two types of “right-wingers,” but neither of them is conservative. One type, as you note, is reactionary: it is uncomfortable with the play of existential freedom and seeks a rigid social structure in which roles are fixed and hierarchy isn’t contested. The second type is not simply uncomfortable with existential freedom, it is terrified by it. This type is the authoritarian follower, for whom the readiness to yield freedom for security tends always toward a desire simply to make it all go away (sometimes cloaked in the comforting end of days formulations of certain religious faiths). In other words, the second type of “right-winger” is not the conservative, but its opposite, the nihilist.

      I certainly agree that we are remarkably averse to calling things by their right names. (Shall we discuss “tax reform”?)

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/29/2017 - 08:23 am.


        Charles, I don’t think your describing two different types of reactionary’s, I think you’re describing a continuum that ranges from less authoritarian to more authoritarian. I think history has shown us that the uncomfortable can become the terrified with minimum prompting. I’ve seen people with that normally low level fear you describe escalate into panic very quickly under the right circumstances and when that happens the ranks of the authoritarians grow accordingly.

  14. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 09/28/2017 - 11:22 am.

    Thanks to Roy, for introducing the concept of “reactionary” to our discussion! Because no media outlet has used the term, we have not perceived that what Donald Trump’s populism is, is reaction: an attempt to deny and push back against all progress in our society. (Let’s not move ahead; let’s go back to yesterday, or the day before yesterday.)

    Food for thought. And a call for renewed use of this accurate term!

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/29/2017 - 08:32 am.


      The progressives that everyone likes to dismiss, and the progressive media that everyone likes to ignore have talking about American reactionary’s for decades. Max Blumenthal wrote a book: “Republican Gomorrah” back in 2009 that everyone should read.

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