Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

Although the President would have you believe otherwise, they’re not here to rescue us all from the brink of health care calamity, and they’re not here simply to usher in an era of sensible, centrist, bipartisan discourse. In fact, they could ultimately be responsible for derailing any chance of real health care reform. 

If the Blue Dogs have their way, much of the already watered-down public component of several health care proposals currently underway in the House and Senate will be scrapped, thus giving us...wait for it...

...the same fakakta mess in which we currently find ourselves. 

The problem seems to be that the Blue Dogs are gaining increasing leverage within the Democratic Party. To that end, their extremely conservative (pro-business, anti-government) views on the economy will inevitably be reflected in any sort of reform package.

But I don’t hate the Blue Dogs. Their virtues are strikingly reminiscent of the those once coveted by the pre-Reagan-era GOP - fiscal parsimony, Laissez-faire social policy, and personal accountability - each of which had a legitimate place in U.S. policy before the Moral Majority lassoed itself to the party, transforming it into a traveling freak show of self-righteous bible thumpers , warmongers, ultra-religious carny barkers, bimbos, creationists, more bimbos, climate change deniers, and repressed homophobes. 25 years ago, politicians like Olympia Snow and Lindsay Graham would’ve been part of the right’s mainstream. But now, the GOP has become the home of individuals like this. And this. And this

The more I think of it, the more I think the Blue Dogs would make a fine adversary for the Democratic party, if they were to - hypothetically speaking - become a substitute for the insane asylum currently located across the aisle. Because their members typically take moderate stances on social, environmental, and foreign policy, engaging in legislative debate with the Blue Dogs perhaps wouldn’t lead to as many irrevocable impasses. Which could lead to more meaningful, substantive, and expeditious policy leaving both houses of Congress. 

That the Blue Dogs are a major cog within the current Democratic party, however, should be cause for deep concern, because they compromise a party that is historically known for indecision and intra-party fractiousness. And since most of their members represent political districts that would otherwise belong to conservative Republicans, Democratic party leaders like Obama, Steny Hoyer, Henry Waxman, and Nancy Pelosi seem far more inclined to placate rather than pressure

And the President, who, in less than a year, has gone from being a staunch advocate of nationalized health care to waving pom-poms for Team Concession, is rapidly exemplifying why no successful politician is safe from the devastating effects of corporate influence.  

Per The Times’ The Caucus blog:

“Nobody is talking about some government takeover of health care,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve been as clear as I can be, under the reform I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. These folks need to stop scaring everybody.”


The angry, fire-engine-red emphasis on the text is mine because those words compel me to flip over random pieces of furniture, as one who believed that Obama would have the moral and political will to facilitate real change in health care policy. Which meant pushing unabashedly for a single-payer system. 

Jesus and Mary in a Motel 6, even Obama’s own doctor agrees!

Scheiner argued that the "public option" Obama favors, in which a government-run insurance program would compete with private insurers, does not go far enough. The public option has been one of the most controversial parts of Obama's plan, with insurers and conservatives vigorously opposing it.

Scheiner said a single-payer government-run system would cut costs by reducing the administrative overhead that doctors and other health providers must maintain to meet complex reimbursement rules from different insurance companies. A government program also would have greater leverage in negotiating lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, he said


But instead, the Dems are looking to sell their already tattered souls yet again. Per the L.A. Times:

Originally, the government insurance plan would have paid doctors, hospitals and other providers a rate set slightly higher than Medicare's. Insurers and hospitals, as well as many lawmakers, feared that arrangement would mean the government plan would incur lower costs than private insurers and could charge low premiums -- driving companies out of the market. Consumers, critics said, ultimately could be left with only one choice for health coverage: the government.

Under the deal struck Wednesday, the government insurance plan would have to negotiate with hospitals and other providers apart from Medicare. That could make it harder for the federally run plan to charge very low premiums.


And, God forbid, exploitative, privateering health insurance companies be driven out of the market by sensible policy that for once addresses the needs of most Americans.  

Saturday, August 1st Update: 

Major provisions of the bill include an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state healthcare program, to cover more low-income people. Middle-class workers would receive new subsidies to pay health insurance. A government-sponsored insurance plan would be available as an alternative to private plans.

Critics worry that the government option will undercut private plans by offering cut-rate premiums, putting the health system on a path to being dominated by the government.


Gee golly, I wonder who these “critics” might be. Here’s an idea for the private health insurance companies: If you want to compete in the marketplace, create a better product. It’s called capitalism.

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Stop the Inanity. by Brock Cohen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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