Corporatists Are The Real Problem
The health care reform debacle has led to a lot of talk of late about how “broken” our current system of government is when you have Congress unable to pass legislation that 72% of the American people favor. Krugman, amongst others, suggests the problem lies in the “60 vote” rule in the Senate — and indeed, they do make a good case. However, one can point out that the U.S. has done quite well, thank you, for well over 200 years with the Senate functioning the way it does, so maybe the problem might lie elsewhere? And besides, making even minor tweaks to the way the Congress as a whole works, I suspect, is just not going to happen anytime soon.
But perhaps the “dysfunctional” Senate is just a symptom of the real problem? I think maybe Robert Kuttner along with Matt Taibbi hit the nail on the head on the latest Bill Moyers Journal. Here’s Kuttner:
“You have Republican wall-to-wall obstructionism, which is partisan. And with a few exceptions, Republicans are totally in bed with big business. And you have just enough Democrats who are in bed with big business that it makes it much harder for progressive Democrats to follow the agenda that the country needs.”
It’s not really about Republicans vs. Democrats any more, it’s about who is owned by big business and who is not. Kuttner goes on to estimate that “there are probably 40 Democrats in the Senate who are not corporate Democrats. And there are probably 200 Democrats in the House who are not corporate Democrats”, which sounds about right. If you think about it, virtually every issue these days really comes down to big business vs. what’s good for average Americans — not only on health care reform, but on climate change, on economic policy, on foreign policy, on pretty much everything. There’s big business pushing for what benefits the rich and powerful to the detriment of all the rest of us, and there’s this “progressive wing” of the Democratic party pushing back for the average American.
And this is what is going to frame the rest of Barack Obama’s first term. He certainly ran on a progressive agenda, and an overwhelming 53% of the population approved of that agenda. And yet so far, in many ways there’s really been no significant change in the way things are done — Big Business still seems to be running the show, as we have seen in the health care reform legislation. But to be fair, Obama has yet to even complete his first year in office. We’ve still got three more years to see if he and the rest of the non-corporate Democrats can wrest control of the country from the mega-corporations. Let’s hope they can pull it off.