It’s time to peel off the Obama decals and set the lobbyists on fire

According to Reuters today, Obama is urging “a new spirt of compromise on healthcare.” What might that mean, you wonder. Well, Senator Jay Rockefeller seems to think it means big payoffs to the healthcare industry, in exchange for a hollow legislative victory. He estimates that, in the current draft of the healthcare reform bill being considered in the Senate Finance Committee, there are some $485 billion being given away in the form of subsidies to the health insurance industry. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, what started as an earnest movement for reform, has pretty much morphed into yet another opportunity to increase shareholder returns and boost corporate profits at the expense of regular American taxpayers… Surprise!

I can’t take credit for it, but I saw a great quote online today… “Obama urges spirit of compromise on healthcare – 72% of the US public wants a public option and they’re not getting it because of lobbyists. That’s not compromise, that’s corruption.

Everything has been turned on it’s head. Now, instead of talking about a government-run public option that would force private insurers to be competitive, we’re talking about putting a system in place that would just drive more people to the same old companies, under threat of being fined if they don’t have insurance. No promise of better rates. No guarantees of better care. No new choices. Just more of the same, but under government mandate.

I have an idea… Let’s all set a time to peel our Obama stickers off of our cars, OK… I’m serious. How about this Wednesday at 9:00 AM? Wouldn’t that be a great image – seeing everyone at once walking out of their homes or places of work with razor blades, and scratching off those ubiquitous “Change” decals? I think we’ve cut him enough slack. Now it’s time to face up to reality, acknowledge that we’ve been had, and take some kind of action…. I’d love for Obama to get 1 million peeled off “Change” decals in the mail by this time next week. What do you think?

And, while we’re at it, did you happen to catch Frank Rich’s column in today’s New York Times? If not, here’s a clip:

…Barack Obama promised a change from this revolving-door, behind-closed-doors collaboration between special interests and government. He vowed to “do our business in the light of day” — with health care negotiations broadcast on C-Span — and to “restore the vital trust between people and their government.” He said, “I intend to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” That those lobbyists would so extravagantly flaunt their undiminished role shows just how little they believe that a new sheriff has arrived in Dodge.

In his scathing Wall Street Journal column on The Post articles last week, Thomas Frank crystallized the gap between Obama’s pledge and this reality. “There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery’s version of the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists.” That’s no joke: It was donated by Tony and Heather Podesta.

Obama’s promise to make Americans trust the government again was not just another campaign bullet point; it’s the foundation of his brand of governance and essential to his success in office. At the first anniversary of the TARP bailout of the banks, we can see how far he has to go. Americans’ continued suspicion that Washington is in cahoots with powerful interests in joints like Tosca is contributing to their confusion and skepticism about what’s happening out of view in the battle over health care reform.

The public is not wrong. The administration’s legislative deals with the pharmaceutical companies were made in back rooms. Business Week reported in early August that the UnitedHealth Group and its fellow insurance giants had already quietly rounded up moderate Democrats in the House to block any public health care option that would compete with them for business. UnitedHealth’s hired Beltway gunslingers include both Elmendorf Strategies and Daschle, a public supporter of the public option who nonetheless does some of his “wink, wink” counseling for UnitedHealth. The company’s in-house lobbyist is a former chief of staff to Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader. Gephardt consults there too…

I love that quote…. “I intend to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” (Now, try reading it again, only this time with audio enhancement.)

Oh, and here’s a link to that piece by Frank that Rich references, and a clip:

…But it’s not just prudery or populist distaste for fancy risottos that turns the public against lobbying: It’s the deep venality that makes possible jokes about senators being bought like lunches. It’s the debasement of politics from a matter of persuasion to one of money and connections. And it’s because the capital’s main journalistic watchdog seems perfectly content to see politics made into a kind of financial transaction—so content, in fact, that the paper’s publisher planned dinner salons that would apparently have put the Post itself on a partial pay-to-play footing.

These are uncomfortable times in Washington. The laissez-faire shibboleths of the last 30 years are in pieces on the ground; the Republican Party is a shadow of its former self; and energy, finance, and health care are all targeted for reform by a president elected last fall with a powerful mandate. And so it falls to our lobbyists to keep reality at bay—to step forward in this awful moment, when history itself is daily giving us such stark lessons, and make sure we do nothing to upset the order that keeps them so well fed…

One last question… Are we allowed to burn people in effigy? If so, I say we have a big ol’ “Lobbyist Burning” on Water Street. I’m dead serious about this. I’d love to get together with my Ypsi neighbors to drink some cider and light up a giant, wooden lobbyist. I think it would be cathartic.

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  1. Trish
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    At this point, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, after all the hard fighting and fine rhetoric, the final bill ends up helping big insurance and pharma companies at everybody else’s expense.

    These are the same people (Congress) who voted for the bank bailouts, despite massive public outcry against them.

    Don’t be fooled as to who butters their bread. They sure aren’t.

    I said that!

  2. jorj
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    SNL skit this past Saturday about Pres. Obama’s accomplishments.

  3. faux shizzle
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    At some point you’re going to have to stop blaming the lobbyists and start blaming Congress and the President.

    There will always be lobbyists among us, trying to buy influence.

    But who accepts the bribes? Who gives up the power? Who bends over backwards to give us eloquent speeches full of lies on the importance of pushing a craftily crafted crony capitalist bill? Who took oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution? Not the lobbyists!

    By themselves, the corporations can do nothing. It’s when our elected representatives sell the power of government force to them that they can screw us all over with impunity.

    Our representatives and Presidents have betrayed our trust, repeatedly, on purpose, for money.

    Are you sure whose faces really belong on those effigies?

  4. jacksmith
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    A majority of voters would rather have a Democrats only bill with a Public Option. Rather than a bipartisan bill without a Public Option.

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option:

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option :-)

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run MEDICARE like public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong MEDICARE like public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong MEDICARE like public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW!

    No Triggers!


    Krugman on heathcare (

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots:

    Howard Dean on the Public Option

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

  5. Posted October 5, 2009 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I agree that the lobbyists aren’t ultimately the ones to blame. I wasn’t comfortable, however, saying that we should burn Obama in effigy.

    And, on a very practical level. focusing on the lobbyists kind of gives politicians a way to save face, should they decide to actually do something about the current situation.

  6. kjc
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Don’t you get it? Lobbyists and corporations running the govt? That’s better than govt running it. Govt sucks. It takes away our freedom and liberty. United Health and people like them are a bunch of individual people with the freedom to screw the rest of us. This is how it should be. This is America.

  7. Oliva
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes, all fucked up. BUT when we voted, people were saying, “WHAT A MESS–it’ll take two years to get anywhere” (plenty said it would take a generation, and that was before the Wall Street revelations and the bailouts). And then the awful selling out and the bilious town hall stuff and all this discouragement . . . all this awfulness and mess. But what ever happened to the idea that we were all going to step up big time and assist in the reform we wanted/want/need to see? (If we’re tortured and troubled by Obama’s seeming capitulation to the lobbyists and other poison powers that be, don’t we have to look at ourselves the same way unless we keep working and fighting for real change? I know many people have been calling reps and senators, but this is only a soft-hearted effort in the face of things.)

    I ran into a good man named Tom the other day; he managed a lot of Obama canvassing work in town last year. We talked about having a big get-together near the anniversary of election day to do some . . . not effigy burning so much as brainstorming, helping one another wipe some of the stench of late off our backs and hard-to-reach places, so on. Get our heads on straight, our voices tuned, and our potency recharged.

    I am frustrated, discouraged as hell, fending off hopeless fury! BUT hope is stubborn, and this is our country. And at the present moment we’re sort of damned as can be, so at least can we have the good energy of decent people regrouping?! (The Limbaugh clip re. “Barrack Hussein Obama” and “Ego has landed” after Chicago didn’t get the Olympics is beyond disgusting. But it does shed light. People who are human do get kicked in the stomach, fall sometimes, get back up, feel the injury, become more human–become bigger and better. For being such a big fat guy, Limbaugh is a tiny human, if human at all.)

    (I ~heart~ Frank Rich and loved this op-ed. Am grateful as hell for him. The HOPE decals don’t burn well! A burning Limbaugh effigy would ooze some contaminating fluid, so we should avoid that for sure.)

    P.S. Anyone want to get together for a reform-is-vital party in early November? Surely there are still things we can do, despite the bad look of it all (Geithner, Summers, etc.)

  8. kjc
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    “I think it’s fortunate that we have Obama in power, not because he’s going to do very much. I think the contradiction between his rhetoric and his practice is very profound. I think it’s very tied into his personality. But what he does is, by virtue of his—actually, in the White House, carrying on the policies, essentially, of the previous administration, especially with regard to war, is that he’s forcing us really to go beyond him to understand his limitations. He’s—in a sense, he’s an opportunity; he’s also a danger, as every crisis is.”

    –Grace Lee Boggs

  9. Peter Larson
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    So far, I am impressed with the level of action by the Obama administration. I was just in Adrian yesterday and saw, for the first time in 10 years, large scale construction in the downtown area and crews finally fixing the dismal, decaying streets. This is all being done with stimulus money as far as I can tell (correct me if I’m wrong) and has proven to be creating jobs in the area for people who need them, at least temporarily. The “Cash for Clunkers” program, although much maligned, has led to Ford selling out of vehicles and having to rehire workers to rebuild stock benefiting our troubled state.

    While the health care bill is fraught with problems and isn’t what any particular person may want, given the complexity of passing a bill of that scale, we shouldn’t be surprised. If we constantly bear down on the failures of politics without exploring the successes, we not only fail ourselves but also future generations.

    Whatever has happened in the past 10 months, it’s still more than Bush did for his first 20 (up until Sept 11th). If anybody remembers, all he did was play golf and pawn off government responsibilities onto religious groups.

    That being said, they could do a better job on this health bill.

  10. Scripps
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    …”peel” not “peal”……

    “The church bells peal loudly in celebration because Mark wrote that he planned to peel the Obama ’08 bumper sticker off his car.”

  11. Brackinald Achery
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Don’t you get it? Lobbyists and corporations running the govt? That’s better than govt running it. Govt sucks. It takes away our freedom and liberty. United Health and people like them are a bunch of individual people with the freedom to screw the rest of us. This is how it should be. This is America.

    The point of keeping Government to a strict Constitutional minimum is to thwart corporatism, among other forms of tyranny. There’s no other way to do it. You let Congress do things they’re not specifically authorized to do in the Constitution, and in come the rich and powerful to buy them off, so they pass unconstitutional laws that benefit the rich and powerful… all the while selling it like it’s needed to protect us from the rich and powerful! And we rubes just keep falling for it. Remember, “this is about Main Street, not Wall Street,” they all said. What bullshit. We need to stop being such suckers; it only encourages them.

    Like Faux said, without Government giving lobbyists the power, the lobbyists don’t have any. If we don’t enforce the strict limitations on our Government, clearly spelled out in the highest law of the land, this problem will continue. And it will continue under the guise of stopping it, because we’re such suckers that they can’t resist screwing us in the rear with sweet nothings in our ear.

    They pass an anti-corporatism (and for other purposes) bill (which they aren’t authorized by the Constitution to do), and the next thing you know, everybody’s forced by law to buy the corporations’ products! Serves us right for being such sappy dupes.

  12. Fire Starter
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’m all for a local Burning Man. And if we can dress it like a lobbyist, all the better. Just tell me when and where.

  13. Kim
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Sending back the stickers is a good first step, but I want my donations back.

  14. the kingpin
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I voted for Obama for one reason only. I thought it was ridiculous that people were saying that a black man would never be elected president of this country. For me it was a win-win for either possible democratic contender to take the race. First woman, or first black man to steer the ship needed to happen. But, outside of that, they are all polititians with agendas. This country was bought and sold a long time ago. Hope?…Bah!…Change?…Whatever! Get real. There is a big giant thumbprint on all of our backs, left from the man holding you in place. Enjoy what’s left, suckers…

  15. Idea
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if the City still employees him, but, for a long time we had a lobbyist on the payroll. Perhaps we could invite him to this event. His name is Kirk Profit.

  16. Robert
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Saw this today:

  17. dp in exile
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink


    It would be great to get Mr. Profit to an event like this. I’ve always wanted to read his ROI (return on investment) report for this community, to have a better understanding of his worth as a subcontractor for the Mayor and Council’s bully-pulpit powers.

    While we are at it, maybe Rep. Wheeler-Smith could provide a report on lobbyists, she accepts a large amount of special interest money in proportion to Jane/Joe Average donors… check out here finance reports on

    Mark: can we cook bacon in the fire? This seems like a prime opportunity to merge several half-cocked events that have been recommended on this site over the years.

    In seriousness… there are some “good” lobbyists out there, but not many. Lobbyist and PAC are thrown around like fast and loose dirty words, but they are necessary within our legal framework. For instance if you want to influence a US House election in anyway that is going to be effective, you are required by Federal Law to register as a PAC. Similar rules exist for lobbying.

    What we really need is, as another person commented, is a modicum of sanity, accountability and transparency in government. To do this, voters should pledge never again to vote straight ticket, never again support the “least worse” candidate, never again refuse to thoughtfully consider the terrible mistakes and illegal activities of past administrations in exchange for gleefully and blindly looking forward.

    What do “they” say… “what is past is prologue”… if we don’t understand and take lessons from history we are condemned to repeat it?

    It’s nice to see that otherwise reasonable people no longer being drunk on “hope & change”. Life and politics are never as easy as a slogan.

  18. Ho Dee
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, Mr. Maynard, you need to redefine your opponents and encourage others to do likewise.

    Frankly, you lap up the mass media lobbyist defined teams and perpetuate the stereotypes. You need to stop obsessing about creationist bush gas wax and wack the birds in the hand.

    You are the eight or ninth most influential chimp in Michigan.

    You need to abandon the bandwagon. Leave the party.

    Good God almighty.

    Stop being a tool fool.

  19. Stacy
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Lobbyists are easy targets, but sometimes it helps to have easy targets. They get your confidence up so that you can start thinking about bigger game.

  20. Meta
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    More on those fines the health insurance companies are pushing for:

    WASHINGTON (AP)– The health insurance industry doesn’t want Congress to let you off easy if you decide to ignore a proposed requirement that all Americans must have coverage.

    Determined to get as many people as possible covered, lawmakers first proposed fines of as much as $3,800 per family for health insurance scofflaws. But they have been steadily scaling back the penalties, with the Senate Finance Committee last week dropping them to $1,500 maximum per family in their version of a health care bill. The committee also phased the penalties in over five years with no fines at all in the first year and eliminated all criminal and most civil punishments for failure to pay.


  21. Oliva
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Geithner and others, very demoralizing. The lobbyist stranglehold, beyond demoralizing. Undermining efforts by DeMint, Inhofe, et al., yuck. Progressive Americans’ grassroots efforts at reform and improving things locally, not necessarily luminous or very potent. (How to embrace mass protests after the teabag co-optation? And how to go meaningfully beyond symbolic gestures to make positive, observable, tangible changes?) Plenty else not so right. But not everything is all dismal either where we and the president are concerned, despite the temptation to huff and puff–if you find any meaning in polls such as this one:

    NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) – The United States is the most admired country globally thanks largely to the star power of President Barack Obama and his administration, according to a new poll.

    I suppose there’s lag time for such things; the ugliness of so many Americans and their public officials over the last few months might have weakened this positive trend. And a poll is a poll . . .

    (Too bad the piece used the phrase “star power,” which plays havoc on some people’s self-images, such as Limbaugh’s–whose awkward projections loom large and loud, such as when he blared, “The ego has landed,” following Chicago’s [or the U.S. or Obama’s, depending on your politics] defeat in the Olympic contest. His snowballing envy of Obama could use a place to land softly and melt; as it is, it makes him tremble and quake insanely and look like a major blood vessel could rupture anytime.)

  22. Mr. X
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    It’s Wednesday morning… Did anyone peel off those decals?

  23. Brackinald Achery
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    If a lobbyist gets hurt by some blog reader with a screw loose, we’ll know who to hold accountable.

  24. Posted October 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Still gonna peel off the stickers?

  25. Ellen
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t you actually have to do something before getting one of those? I mean, I voted for the man, and like him, but what’s he really done?

  26. Oliva
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The announcement will no doubt generate considerable criticism, some from conservatives who simply oppose the president reflexively, and some from those who believe the honor is premature given Obama’s fairly brief tenure. An intellectually honest approach suggests the latter’s concerns are not unreasonable.

    But the accolade is nevertheless defensible. The Nobel Peace Prize, as I understand it, is awarded to the person (or persons) who’ve shown great leadership in advancing the cause of international peace. President Obama has invested consider energy and political capital in doing just that — promoting counter-proliferation, reversing policies on torture, embracing a new approach to international engagement, and recommitting the U.S. to the Middle East peace process.

    Thorbjorn Jagland, noting the president’s efforts, added, “We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.” I hope the same thing. If nothing else, if the prize helps give the administration the high ground in international settings, the honor may have a meaningful, and positive, impact.

    –Steve Benen,

    and a comment posted at

    I think the Gorbachev analogy is a solid one. When the leader of a major world power repudiates lawlessness, aggressive warfare, and torture, that policy shift for the country is itself a contribution to the cause of world peace . . .

    If a new leader did for Chinese policy what Obama did for U.S. policy, he’d probably get the prize and nobody would question it. . . .

    Americans aren’t used to seeing the U.S. as a major threat to world peace, but recently, it has been. Reversing that trend really is a major achievement.


    I also like the comparison made here and there to Desmond Tutu being awarded the prize in 1984 as a way to commend his hard work at trying to end apartheid, which took another ten years to accomplish.

    (As for Obama “doing something” more generally, doing serious work to stave off a full-blown depression is something, even if done highly imperfectly and not complete yet; significant progress made in counterterrorism; health care reform showing more promise than ever and on its way to becoming real, if also imperfect–among other things. I feel my share of frustration about our ridiculous, sick political realities and the trouble they make for decent government, also in the fact that Obama can’t really be all things to all the people who wish he could or insist he should, that he’s human and forced to compromise sometimes in seriously unwelcome ways–but it is worth at least acknowledging some of what he’s done and is doing. Otherwise, we risk feeling gloomy based on incomplete information.)

  27. john one
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Yes, according to my calculations, it’s time.

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