Wednesday 15 July 2015

Short Secretary Tells Tall Tales

This is tedious but I'm gonna do it anyway.

Former Secretary to the Bubbya administration Robert Reich has written two pieces for AriannaOnLine recently, both of them demonstrating the shallow depth of discernment that even the most intelligent American voters are able to go to, and how it shades their understanding of the political process.

First the latter piece, which guilts at a ghost: The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

He uses as a jumping off point current candidate Clinton's craftily veiled opposition to the act's fantasy reinstatement and warns that her not coming out in support of it might be to her political detriment, but that not doing so would definitely lead to more economic turmoil.

Of note is that this is relegated to campaign issue when there's a guy in office right now who could be asked these same questions. Glass-Steagall's final nail was, after all, the presidential pen from Clintonia's waning days of legacy building.

Naturally Reich uses his insider's view to lay blame for its dismantling at the feet of those responsible. Sort of. About his boss, he believes "most of his economic policies were sound" but that in his time in office the secretary had been "in fairly continuous battle with some other of his advisers and cabinet officers who seemed determined to do Wall Street's bidding".

You see, the Clintons just get bad advice, which could never have anything to do with how they profit from it.

He goes on: "To this day some Wall Street apologists argue Glass-Steagall wouldn't have prevented the 2008 crisis because the real culprits were nonbanks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns."

Continuing with a beautifully terse clarification of why that's bullshit (because of where the "nonbanks" get their money), he on the other hand outright obscures by omission: Having just mentioned that it was bad advice that led to his boss' partying with Phil Gramm like it was 1999, and how that led to the 2008 crisis, he fails even to hint that one of the post-crisis Wall Street apologists is that same boss.

At what point does an ex-president's position become his own and not just that of unnamed bad advisers?

He concludes by saying that candidate "Clinton, of all people, should remember" the lesson he is talking about. Such ostensibly strong words. But here he furthers the outrageous notion that there exist presidents who you should prefer having in office over others, because you at least have a chance to get them to listen.

Lemme see: He listens to you partially on tax rates and budgetary matters but ignores you on NAFTA and Glass-Steagall. The former solidifies his reputation as a fiscally responsible captain of economic growth and stability, and the latter destroys the world economy. Tough choices. Good thing there're adults in the room to weigh and decide.

Now it's the old first lady's turn and, by god, if we can just get her ear...

So how do the people reading Reich respond? I'll admit first-off that the rule of plausible consent applies to my interpretation here, so it should be taken with a grain of sodium pentothal.

The response would appear roundly in favor of candidate Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. Clinton, it is said, is bought and paid for.

This is what I would call the One Step Beyond factor of consumer media, a default dissent of the disseminators of given information. If they were inclined to go beyond one step, they'd be reading & commenting elsewhere. So while they believe the author is being too generous to the Clintons, they still believe the Democratic machine can be "recaptured" by someone who'll have their ear.

It will be noted that the battle for the Democratic nomination will be over domestic concerns such as these, while differences of opinion on foreign affairs remain even more narrowly rhetorical. But in the pages of the Posts & Times-es & Journals you will not read about the financiers who capitalize off both sets of issues and how the politicians and their advisers will thrive off of it, despite their public display of disgruntled dismay.

Whether or not any or all of them believe their bullshit is immaterial to the fact that it is what it is.


Reich's bit from a week ago has an outright lie in the headline, and although that'd usually be down to a simple editorial decision, it is, in fact, the gist of the article entitled The Choice Ahead: A Private Health-Insurance Monopoly or a Single Payer.

I'd let him off the hook if it were not for Reich's vague metonymic twist that concludes his essay: "Which is why, ultimately, American [sic] will have to make a choice."

When referring to the legislative branch of the American government, we read about the "House". When referring to the executive branch of the American government, we read about the "White House" or "Washington" — maybe even the "United States" when referring to elements of either.

But what we never read in reference to governmental policy making is "America" or "Americans" unless they are marching on- or bombing another country, so he must be talking about the simple folks faced with a choice.

So I have to ask...

When the ACA was being drafted, where were the Americans? When they were discussing health care reform in Washington, where were the Americans? That's right. They were on forums like AriannaOnLine parroting the president in their support for a "robust public option".

Keep this in mind. As the president himself said that that was what was required to keep insurance premiums down. Before he changed his position and it wasn't.

So Reich's piece is about how the big insurance companies are monopolizing (I told you this was tedious. I should just quit now). Huge profitable organizations that have benefited from a windfall of new customers are trying to capitalize even more on the legislation they co-wrote and behave as they always have, by giving executives and shareholders huge bonuses. Why, I never.

Reich says that mergers will lead to premium increases "squeezing employees and consumers for all they're worth" and that the "alternative is a government-run single payer system". But he also says "the problem isn't Obamacare".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the ACA, aka Obamacare, was the choice Americans were presented with because — as those "fucking retarded" supporters of single-payer had to have explained to them — it was the only thing they'd be able to get the votes for.

Could it be that Reich is implicitly furthering the idea you read bandied about in mainstream press comments sections that the ACA was just a first step, after which Medicare will be extended to all and cheap healthcare will be universal in America?

What's changed? I mean, except for the Supreme Court's decision upholding the act and the tedious press reports about its stated victories, how do the insurance companies — who are riding as high on the socially subsidized capitalist hog as they have in the history of social capital — figure in to this magically progressive strategy, and how & when does it overcome the "what Congress will swallow" threshold?