Thursday, January 21, 2010

After the Health Reform Crack Up: Govern through crime?

Former Clinton adviser Mark Penn lays out the case for a Bill Clinton post-1994 model for Obama to come back to the "center" and "swing voters" after the apparent crack up of his signature health reform initiative. Whatever the politics of swing v. base voters going into rather than coming out of a mid-term congressional election (which may be important) it is also worth remembering that what Clinton did in that period was to help enact some of the worst pieces of crime legislation in the history of democratic societies including a host of new federal death penalties, the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and many other laws that helped the states achieve unprecedented prison populations during an era when crime was already declining.

Fortunately the public is not as primed for a crime centered populist swing as it was in 1994 with the murder of Polly Klass driving the media. Still, it is hard to see where, other than in punishing despised criminals, the two parties can agree on strong sounding laws. In that spirit, and tongue only partially in cheek, look for the some of the following to take up all the extra time the Senate will have on its hands after health reform is off the table:

* A federal death penalty for insurance executives whose decisions can be shown to have shortened the life of an insured (now that's a "death panel" baby).

* LWOP for Bank executives who short their own client's position.

* Lifetime Sex offender registration and notification requirements for public office holders who commit adultery while in the District of Columbia.

1 comment:

kirk boyd said...

It is not surprising that the first call after the loss in Mass. is "swing to the middle" which will not only be more governing through crime on the domestic level, but also on the international level where the United States is now spending more money on military than all of the rest of the world combined! Whether it's too much money on prisons and not enough for the University of California, or too much money on military and not enough for healthcare, governing through crime has so deeply become so deeply entrenched within the American culture that we automatically rush to the so-called "middle" and make no progress. Obama said during the debates that health care is a "right." And it is, health care is a human right. That means it must be provided, not that we should try to negotiate something from the middle.