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What Matt Yglesias Leaves Out of His Analysis: His Own Role

Matt Yglesias analyzes the “failure of the progressive block strategy,” and chalks it up to progressives not picking issues that “centrists” care about.

He doesn’t note his own role in that failure, vilifying the leader of the progressive block Raul Grijalva as “the world’s greatest monster” unless he backs down. (Our own whip effort started to back Grijalva’s efforts, which were already underway in the House when we started in June of 2009.)

I’ve said many times that it’s impossible to expect progressive members of Congress to hold together if they don’t have the backing of their natural fiscal constituencies — the liberal interest groups and the unions. Without that support, they’re left to raise money from PACS and other corporate sources to sufficiently fund their campaigns. That’s why they take turns championing progressive bills that ultimately fail so they can pretend they do something, and then voting for bad bills that ultimately pass so someone else can be the failed hero. When Tammy Baldwin votes for one PhRMA-friendly bill after another, progressives can say “hey, but she’s so good on LGBT issues!” Which never actually pass either, but the kabuki keeps activists sufficiently docile and donating to large organizations who fundraise off amping up outrage.

But it’s also worthy of note that it’s hard for them to withstand the assault of liberal “pundits” who sneeringly derided their efforts as naive, futile and “purist.” These thoughtful folks should be proudly taking credit for their role in delegitimizing progressive opposition to the bill in liberal intellectual circles, much the same role that the same people played during the Iraq war. After all, it’s TNR’s stock in trade.

I’ll leave it to others to analyze how corporate cash was laundered through foundations to underwrite the efforts of various “opinion leaders” in the health care debate, but it definitely deserves more scrutiny:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kaiser Family Foundation Launches New Non-Profit Health Policy News Service

Kaiser Health News Will Provide In-Depth Reporting on Major Health Policy Issues

Menlo Park, CA — In the midst of a major federal health reform debate and the ongoing financial turmoil in the media industry, the Kaiser Family Foundation officially launched Kaiser Health News (KHN) today to provide a new source of in-depth reporting on major health issues. KHN is staffed by experienced health policy journalists and editors, and will feature contributions from a wide array of leading health policy commentators and independent journalists.


At the heart of KHN will be in-depth, explanatory stories about complex health policy issues and major developments in Washington, D.C., and around the country in the health care marketplace and health care delivery system. The news service will cover policy stories like health care reform, developments in major public health coverage programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and complicated ongoing policy challenges like the financing of long-term care, and it will examine the nation’s health care system from a consumer perspective. KHN will also provide a synthesis of health policy news coverage through a daily health policy report, original programming from Kaiser’s broadcast studio, and regular columns from contributing writers and experts. Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of The New Republic, and Howard Gleckman, senior research associate at the Urban Institute and former senior correspondent at Business Week, will be writing bi-weekly columns. Among others who will contribute occasional columns are: Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Judy Feder of the Center for American Progress, and Mark Pauly of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The development of Jonathan Gruber’s much-vaunted “model,” which formed the justification for econo-wonks and politicians alike to support the Senate bill’s voodoo claims about the excise tax, was originally paid for by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 1999 according to Gruber. It was given a facelift this year courtesy of the Small Business Majority, whose money comes from foundations including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation. (h/t spanishinquisition)

And recall that Kaiser Permanente was the original sponsor of the Washington Post pay-to-play salons.

You have to wonder if any of that Kaiser cash underwrote other efforts at the Post after the parties fell through.

HCAN’s efforts were funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and George Soros foundations, among others.

So, come on, pundits. Don’t let the lameness of progressives in Congress get all the credit for shooting down the public option, rolling back choice, and teeing up constitutional amendments to overturn the health care bill around the country.

Stand proud.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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