Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Fault" and the Death of the Public Option


There's no small amount of anger being directed at President Obama over the death of the public option, some form of national health insurance program to compete with private insurers. Take, for example, Glenn Greenwald,
Of all the posts I wrote this year, the one that produced the most vociferous email backlash -- easily -- was this one from August, which examined substantial evidence showing that, contrary to Obama's occasional public statements in support of a public option, the White House clearly intended from the start that the final health care reform bill would contain no such provision and was actively and privately participating in efforts to shape a final bill without it.
Greenwald then contends that Obama gave up the public option early, in order to buy off the insurance industry and perhaps to get it to financially support the Democratic Party.

I think Greenwald is correct in part - that President Obama has never viewed a public option as essential for healthcare reform. But what if he did? Obama could have twisted every arm in the Senate and he would not have come up with sixty votes, so why should he have wasted his energy on a doomed public option (and inevitably being accused of 'failing' by both the left-wing advocates of the public option and the entire Republican establishment when it didn't happen), when he could focus on things that could actually be achieved. Also, this appears to be misplaced anger - the public option died in the Senate some time ago. What Lieberman just killed off was part of a proposed compromise to advocates of a public option - the expansion of Medicare.

Greenwald alleges that the White House pressured freshmen Members of Congress on a war funding bill, linking to an article that notes that the White House denied the charge. But even accepting it as true, which of the Senators who were intent on killing the public option is a freshman? Which would shiver in his boots at the idea that "they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House" if they don't accede to the President? Sorry, but when you're scrambling for sixty votes every time an important issue comes up, and when you're dealing with Senators who don't need your help to get reelected, threats like that are apt to make you look silly and lose credibility.

Moreover, it does appear that President Obama has been doing his best to keep the party on track to pass a bill that he believes may work. He has also clearly embraced the principle of progress, not perfection. Think about it: A perfect healthcare reform bill would include provisions that have never even been on the table.

Joseph freakin' Lieberman - it's hard to think of a politician more deserving of being kicked to the curb by the White House, but reports are quite to the contrary - that up to now Obama has lobbied against any serious consequence to Lieberman because he supposedly can provide that sixtieth vote (that he somehow never seems to deliver when the need is critical). As much as I want to see Lieberman kicked to the curb, by all appearances he's such a petty, vindictive small-minded man that to do so now may well result in there never again being more than 59 Senate votes for healthcare reform - even the hobbled remnants Lieberman has deemed acceptable for debate (but still hasn't promised to support in a final vote).

1 comment:

  1. Health Care is Crippling the Country - Where are the Republicans - Drinking?

    Okay now that the Republicans won't play and big pharma and big insurance have Joe Lieberman all wrapped up who is going to break the monopoly and price fixing that is crushing the middle class and destroying our economy and Country?

    Since the middle class and small business (99% of the Country) isn't getting any help from the Republicans - not one - we need to strip the mandates out that require everyone to have insurance and that provide an economic windfall to the 1% of the Country Republicans and Joe Lieberman answer to.

    If we aren't going to get competition for big pharma and we can't buy cheaper drugs from overseas (so much for free trade) and we can't buy into medicare (no public option) how are we to create competition and incentives for the private insurers to lower their cost?

    Small businesses just got informed by blue cross their rates are going up 37% this year. There is no incentive for a monopoly to lower costs. The collusion in pricing needs to be investigated and the anti-trust exemption needs to be terminated - with prejudice. The insurance companies have a gun to our head and the republicans are loading the barrel with glee.

    The fact remains that In 2007, before the current economic downturn, an American family filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of illness every 90 seconds; three-quarters of them were insured. Over 60% of all bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were driven by medical incidents. The share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007. Most victims are middle class, well educated and had health insurance - (The American Journal of Medicine).

    If they don't fix how much it costs the middle class and keep squeezing us to pay their CEO's 20 million dollars a year they are going to break the country. The money needs to stay in the hands of the middle class so they can support the broader economy not just a few CEO's. The insurance companies can't be allowed to skim 40% off the top for salaries and profit. Their manufactured monopoly has to be broken up by the Government. It's called governing. It's the SEC's job to do this and Congresses job to legislate the rule of law when monopolies are crushing the overall economy. It's bad for our National security on top of everything else. For all their preaching of free markets the Republicans are elected to eliminate competition and consolidate power for their big business and fiscal allies in the corporate world.

    How stupid are our representatives? Spare me the republican talking points they have offered nothing and are only playing politics to win power in their little world of politicking. Meanwhile the Country is crumbling. 1% of the population is doing well. That eventually will lead to civil war. And there are plenty of guns out there.

    The republicans hope health care reform and this President fail because they govern for 1% of the country and 1% alone. How can there not be one republican who doesn't understand the cost of health care is weakening our Country? The republicans can't do what's right for the country because they are scared the corrupt who they take their money from can lead the ignorant against them in any election and win because they control the media.

    As it has been for a long time the Republican party worrying about their own seat in Congress have sold out to the highest bidder and have proudly become a wholly owned subsidiary of Corporate America. They do "NOT" represent the middle class. Direct your anger at them.

    Paul Burke
    Author-Journey Home

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