Kuttner , an old-fashioned progressive, big-government liberal, said that the Democrats missed a big opportunity in 2008. Due to the mainly Republican missteps, there was a moment when progressive reform could have, once again, become change we can believe in. What we needed was a new Social Security or Medicare, a public program publicly adminstered. But instead we got the monstrous and unworkable public-private hybrid that has discredted the progressive moment. It’s time to do something quickly! Otherwise, the Republicans, despite their unpopularity and lunacy, will quickly and underservedly return to power.
Under Obama, progressivism hasn’t been discredited. It really hasn’t been tried.
Well, that’s true, in a way and to a point, when it comes to Obamacare But the votes really weren’t there. In terms of getting something passed, the progressive Democrats did the best they could. It was so hard to get it passed that they didn’t have the leisure to think much about whether it would really work.
Now, as has been pointed out in our threads and elsewhere, it’s not like there are enough votes for single payer. And, for now, there aren’t the votes for some Yuvalian alternative. Maybe there will be after the election of 2014. But I sort of doubt it. And, in any case, there’s the presidential veto.
In terms of public support, the progressive blip on the radar is over. But Kuttner isn’t alone in being at a loss for a plan that will help us right now.
We can repeat Pete and other wise men by saying that the conservatives have to think about mending—not ending—our entitlement system, with the demographic imperatives in mind. Government shouldn’t either take over or withdraw entirely from the health-care business. It helps no one to say that the welfare state is unconstitutional or that its collapse is imminent. Nevertheless, the long-term issues are huge and pretty intractable without a lot more statesmanship than we’ve seen so far.