Thursday, December 17, 2009
If you have been following the Health Care Reform Debate recently you have witnessed one of the greatest sell-outs in the history of politics. Many people will tell you that politics is a dirty game. I think that it is a toilet inside of a cesspool surrounded by a nightmare. No one inside of the system escapes being soiled and no one outside escapes having their interests trashed.
I have followed presidential politics from Eisenhower to Obama, and I am absolutely astounded at the fact that the successor of FDR, JFK and LBJ lacks the balls to stand up to his own caucus. When faced with a bullying, strutting, self serving egotist such as Joe Lieberman the 44th President caves in like a tower made of wet tissue paper. Oh he is beautiful and smooth and smart; however, I am beginning to believe that all of the intestinal fortitude in the Progressive Democratic Party Leadership is sitting in the Secretary of State’s Office.
Following his magnificent collapse Obama seems to have sent his minions in the Senate out to the cameras to instruct the American people not to be greedy, take what we can get and that nothing has really been lost. Perhaps this is the most appalling thing of all - to bargain away any chance we had of real health care reform then to stand and tell us that we don’t see what we see, hear what we hear and know what we know. My mother used to say of people who engaged in this behavior, "The empty wagon rattles the loudest." Empty they are - of decency, compassion, honor and often brain power. They still have their even emptier slogans though. "Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good," code for the needs of the American People aren’t really the issue.
We began this Health Care nightmare with the idea of a single payer system. We are the only wealthy industrialized country in the world that doesn’t cover all of its citizens. Many of the countries that have the single payer model are not using a socialist foundation. It might behoove some of the empty wagons rattling in this country to acquaint themselves with the difference. Thanks to Senator Olympia Snowe - whom I don’t remember seeing on the presidential ticket despite Obama's need to placate her at every opportunity - and some other so called bi-partisan Republicans single payer was pushed into the cesspool as the public option emerged.
The public option was predicted to be a government run plan that the uninsured and others could buy into. It was to be not-for-profit and therefore cheaper to run. This would have offered competition to the private health care insurance providers and encouraged the lowering of costs. Once again for the benefit of the empty wagons rattling about government take over and socialized medicine, this is neither. The public option, as the word option implies, was a choice.
Down the toilet with single payer and with the help of Senator Max Baucus’ Finance Committee, into the cesspool with the public option as the Medicare buy in materialized. The buy in would allow people 55 and older to buy into Medicare. This is a group of people who are very difficult to insure. Onto the scene comes Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Aetna, to flush single payer down the toilet and push the Medicare buy in into the cesspool.
What is left? A windfall/bailout for the insurance companies shored up by individual mandates to carry insurance. Penalties to be exacted by the IRS. What becomes of the employer mandate? Will employers drop their employees from coverage secure in the knowledge that the individual must provide their own insurance?
Supposedly there are some consumer protections. However, the health care insurance industry has been dancing around consumer protection for years. Particularly, when they have, as they do now, someone to carry their water in the White House. This is a bit like forcing tax-payers to do business with organized crime.
The real sadness of this is that the President and the Democratic Senate had a chance to do something monumental and historic for the American People. Instead, like very brilliant surgeons with the opportunity to remove a heretofore inoperable tumor they decided that rather than using the best equipment, the finest medications and the most excellent technique they would bleed the patient because the man who owns the leech pool contributes to their campaign. Herein lies the rub, as the Bard said. We have the finest government money can buy. Most of our so called leaders of both parties and all descriptions spend a good deal of their time sporting Joan-Crawford-Hurt-Me-Pumps, strolling up and down K Street singing "Love/Influence for Sale" to passing lobbyists. There is a name for people who behave this way, and it isn’t Mr. President or Senator.
Finally, a word to the Tea Baggers and the Freedom Loving Patriots who have fought health care reform at the behest of corporate sponsors these many months. Aetna is tossing several hundred thousand people off their rolls soon to protect their profit base. Odds are that some of you will be in their number. Perhaps your corporate friends like Dick Armory will help cover any and all of your medical expenses in the weeks and months to come. Of course, we know that you won’t want to accept government subsides. Good luck with all of that.