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Head-Knocking Time

There's a consensus emerging among liberal pundits about what needs to happen for President Obama to achieve genuine health care reform: He's got to get tough with the legislators who are standing in his way.

Michael Tomasky writes in a Guardian commentary:

What time is it? Simple. It's time this week for Barack Obama to start banging some heads in Congress....

[L]egislators are rarely courageous. They're not leaders. They're followers. They don't like doing risky things. They like doing things they know are popular...

We all know that Obama can do the let's-all-reason-together routine. It's nice, and it still should be his default posture on most matters. But he has to show that he can be a ball-buster. He has to show he can scare people. Americans haven't seen that side of him. It could be that it doesn't exist. But if it does, now is damn well the time to start showing it.

Robert Reich blogs for TPM Cafe that Obama must build forcefully make the case for universal health care everywhere around the country, forget bipartisanship, insist on a public option, demand that taxes be raised on the rich, and -- yes -- knock heads on Capitol Hill.

Whose heads?

Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times opinion column:

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by 'centrist' Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around 'centrist,' by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field....

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don't seem able to explain their reasons in public....

Honestly, I don't know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn't? If I had to guess, I'd say that what's really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

But this fantasy can't be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold.

By contrast, Robert J. Samuelson uses his Washington Post op-ed column today to decry the amount of money being spent on the "welfare state." You know, on things like Social Security and Medicare.

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 22, 2009; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Quick Takes
Next: Some Things Obama Must Explain


Whither after Froomkin?

If you are like me, having been clicking your way to this newspaper primarily to catch Dan Froomkin, now that Dan will be gone together with his tremendous journalistic digest, you may no longer feel the need, much less stomach, to return here.

For your reference, I've found a substitute:

Besides being one of the few news organizations that got it right about the calamitous Bushy adventure into Iraq, the McClatchy has, I found, a better, click-saving, layout and content, without being overwhelmed with neocon-rightwing bile. I wonder why our Star of the moment cannot find a comfortable if not a better home here for us to follow.

Please check it out.

Posted by: kj412 | June 22, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

nah nah nah nah
hey hey hey


Posted by: popopo | June 22, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Why not quote Fred Hiatt who opines about health care today? There he is linked in bold on the front page. Oh, wait... he's written a completely vacuous, predictable, unoriginal, handwringing piece of nothingness. Never mind.

Posted by: oncebitten | June 22, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Dan - read that you're leaving the Post. Sorry to hear it. Love your work

Posted by: govstation | June 22, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

To the WaPo, I take this moment to remind you that when Froomkin goes, I go - no more Post bookmark, nor will I purchase the paper when I am in the US and see it offered.

Unless you can do better than that, SLATE will also cease to be among my bookmarks and sites frequently visited.

Thank you for your attention.

Posted by: lkrndu | June 22, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


Posted by: JackSmith1 | June 22, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I think you are missing two key points. First, politicians are in the business of getting reelected, and so public service (things like passing meaningful health care reform) only happens when they think it improves their chances of election. If a bunch of them don't back strong healthcare reform, and are tunred out in the 2010 mid-term elections, they will all have a new attitude in 2011.

Second, Samuelson and many other Neo-con pundits decry the "welfare" state regulalry, but not because of the Welfare Program. Rather, they hold as a central economic tenent Social Darwinism, where economic activity shouldn't be restrained or channeled by any governmental action, and people will either succeed or be marginalized. Social Darwinists don't care about those who don't make it, because they view such people as deliberatly failing. Thus, to Mr. Saluelson, any government action to strengthen health care access, lower costs, or redirect services is welfare if it comes from the government.

Posted by: kcsphil | June 22, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama's role, being the cool and popular one, will be to continue touring the country and drumming up support, like he did in advance of the stimulus bill. But in that case, he needs to sic all the dogs in his administration on Congress. Perhaps one tactic might be, putting it to the blue dogs: do they, each individually, want to be remembered as one of the people who killed health care reform?

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 22, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dan Froomkin, You will be missed.

Posted by: jama452 | June 22, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

To the Post:

Why did you dump Dan? Don't say the column wasn't 'working'. The Post publishes a lot of anti-liberal points of view. Now, you are getting rid of liberals! Why get rid of one of the best thinkers/editors you have? Answer: he is smarter than you and has a lot of insight on how to run the paper and you don't like it! Just call a 'spade a spade' and show some integrity, as Dan always has been willing to do. This was a fight for the editorial mainstream within the Post and Dan lost. Don't hide behind bogus comments.

Dan, you'll be fine. Keep on bringing it!

Posted by: amaledemocrat | June 22, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Time for Obama to hit the road - and do a ton of town hall meetings on healthcare. Most Americans want the public option. Town halls will prove that, and reporters will have to write it.

And Rahm - this is why Rahm was hired, no? Rahm needs to beat heads.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | June 23, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

When I bought my Kindle I signed up for WaPo, and Dan was the main reason. Certainly wasn't Krauthammer or (*choke*) George Will.

But when the 14-day trial runs out, I'll unsubscribe, because there is no way I'm paying money to a paper that would fire Dan Froomkin but continue to carry shoe-bottom journalism like Krauthammer, Kristol, or Will.

Hope you land somewhere better, Dan, you're the best and I could not have gotten though the past eight years without you.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 23, 2009 2:27 AM | Report abuse

"re-election" these days means "where can I raise the most money most quickly to scare the electorate at election time?" I hate to be cynical, but it's a necessity. Your points are well taken.

I see that one of my senators, Ms Feinstein, is playing her cautious centrist role and completely missing the game. Yet again I find out that her knowledge of a topic is a few microns thick, and perhaps a bit wider.

Ms Boxer is, I kid you not, sending me email extolling her recognition of Rickey Henderson, a baseball player of decades past.

With friends like these, who need Republicans and Neocons?

Posted by: boscobobb | June 23, 2009 3:57 AM | Report abuse

I think the key loss of Dan Froomkin is not merely his foraging on our behalf, but the general intelligence of his avid readers. The commenters bring insights and thought to the space, and aside from a few people whose names shall not mentioned, the discourse is significantly above average.

I'm reminded of The Well nearly 20 years ago, where you had to bring your A game if you were going to post.

Fred Hiatt would be ridiculed off The Well for his vacuous reasoning, regardless of his politics.

Posted by: boscobobb | June 23, 2009 4:01 AM | Report abuse

May I remind those controlling the WaPo executive decisions that the Los Angeles Times has been steadily losing readership since it fired Robert Sheer. Not so much because of Sheer, though he had an avid following (like Dan Froomkin), but from the public loss of confidence in the paper's credibility. Newspapers aren't dying because of the public's loss of interest in news. The public is losing interest because newspapers have lost credibility. They repeat opinions without any attempt to ascertain facts, on either side, and they give equal weight to lies and truth. Fire Froomkin, and the WaPo sounds its death knell. It's only a matter of time.

Posted by: shaman7214 | June 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Hiatt's Opinions section had to dump Dan, who gave us substantive summaries and commentary on the issues (see above), then leave us with the drivel from Liz Mundy, published on Dan's last day, Friday 6/26/09!

"Jon and Kate Plus Health Care (by Liz Mundy) Poor Jon and Kate. Their marriage is over, their show on hiatus, their domestic ordeal entering a new phase of acrimony. Possibly nothing could have saved this marriage, but one thing would have made it less fragile: A mandate for health insurance to cover in vitro fertilization..."

Posted by: las100 | June 28, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

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