Aug 25 2009
12:49 pm

As I've been hearing in many a quarter lately, the Democratic Party will have no one to blame but themselves if healthcare reform doesn't happen.

In fleshing out my thoughts on the matter, I read this piece of important analysis of the current policy paralysis on healthcare reform...

People make a mistake when they think the battle for health care reform is about ideology, because it's not. It's about who controls K Street and the cash that flows from it

This is the bottom line, but it comes at the top: this isn't about doing what is right. It is about doing what is expedient. Plus ça change, &c.

Just as it was during the bank bailout, the goal of the White House was clear: more important than saving the financial system was keeping the financial institutions happy and stop them from financing Republicans.

In other words, pander to both sides while giving advantage to spenders over the voters. The death panels thing? Sure, it's an egregious lie. But the paymasters don't care. And while Obama isn't spreading the misinformation here, his administration isn't doing much to stop it. It is a relief to see Barney Frank telling a LaRouchie to STFU, but more of that is needed. It hasn't been much in evidence otherwise.

So, ultimately, this is what this theatre is all about:

If you look at the cat-and-mouse game played between the Democrats and the Republicans, support expressed by the President for a "public plan" meant "don't you dare." A commitment that the bill will be "bipartisan" (since the GOP would never agree to one) was a signal that there would be no public plan.


The White House never cared about getting Republican votes -- it cared about keeping the Republicans from peeling off the dollars of stakeholders like PhRMA. Giving in to "Republican" demands was cover for writing shitty things into the bill that would keep the stakeholders happy. They didn't need Republican votes, they never did, and they never truly cared. As long as the money stayed out of their campaign coffers, it was all good.

Ponder this the next time that the administration stares off into space as the misinformation campaign gets louder. Health care reform won't be scuttled because of a bunch of goobers at the curb screaming "SOCIALIZM SUX!" But they do make a convenient distraction (and just as conveniently, an eventual scapegoat) while the dealmakers once again sell out the public interest.

This is how bad policy is worse than no policy. As it stands, it looks like we will get a package that will (a) form the [unfunded] mandate that people carry health insurance, and (b) may or may not provide some sort of subsidy to soften the blow. The "promise to hold down the cost spiral" is as empty as the past promises not to cheat the system. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So while the Fox News types have been having much mirth in running the rubes to oppose the supposed onslaught of totalitarianism, the "hope & change" axis is being sold its own brand of snake oil.

Remember, it's not about ideology. It's about power.

R. Neal's picture

it looks like we will get a

it looks like we will get a package that will (a) form the [unfunded] mandate that people carry health insurance, and (b) may or may not provide some sort of subsidy to soften the blow

And (c), further embed insurance in employment.

Andy Axel's picture

And (c), further embed

And (c), further embed insurance in employment.

...which should be seen as a non-starter, esp. since new claims for unemployment rarely fall below the half-million mark every week.

I don't have the evidence to back up this assertion, but I would offer that the perceived "benefit" of employment is a hook that keeps a lot of people doing shitty jobs, esp. since changes in employment status can screw up your eligibility, exclusions become an increasing concern, etc.

Still -- I've wondered why Obama hasn't gone to the well to use his demonstrated rhetorical talents to muster support for revolutionary change in healthcare. It could well be that he won't because he isn't committed to do it in the first place.


Dirty deeds done dirt cheap! Special holidays, Sundays and rates!

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

It's the old good cop / bad cop routine

The current healthcare "debate" is a wonderful illustration of how the Ds and the Rs operate as the single Party of Business that they actually constitute. This time, the act is completely transparent due to the utter powerlessness of the Rs.

The Ds, the good cop, are screaming that they must gut the health bill in order to get R support, making the Rs the bad cop. But the Rs are in minority status in both houses of Congress, and the Ds control the White House. Also, the Rs have made it abundantly clear that they won't vote for any healthcare bill at all--public option or not.

And yet the Ds say they still long to "compromise" with the Rs in a spirit of bipartisanship. Contrary to what some seem to think, this does not constitute spinelessness on the part of the Ds. Instead, it simply shows they are trying to play the game they normally play: do the work of big business, but pretend that they are being forced to do so by the Rs.

This time around, though, the ruse couldn't be more obvious to anyone who pays attention. The Ds want the insurance companies to continue to make money by denying health care, and they want employers--by means of their control of buying group coverage--to maintain their power of life and death over employees.

Andy Axel's picture

And to re-emphasize a point

And to re-emphasize a point I may not have made well enough:

The reform protests are a meaningless distraction. The "reform" that we will wind up with is a set of test-marketed policy formulas that have the imprimatur of the monied stakeholders. There is no "reform" without their consent. Right now, that reform appears to be a mandate for people to invest in private plans. This amounts to the sales stratagem of "we'll lose money on every sale, but we make it up on volume." Taxpayers will stake the loss, and the private insurers will receive a subsidized bonanza*. Sure sounds a lot like the Ponzi strategy for mitigating the derivative/swap mess - soak the victims while enriching the folks who continue to have a stake in perpetuating the problem.

This is a demonstration of negotiating in bad faith, and the administration may very well see a repeat of 1994 as a result. And why did Clinton fall short of his mandate at that time? Lather, rinse... lather, rinse...

* And none dare call that sort of corporate welfare "socialism."


Dirty deeds done dirt cheap! Special holidays, Sundays and rates!

gonzone's picture


And I thought I was a cynical bastard.

Sadly, I cannot disagree. Money talks and all that.

The Golden Rule, he who has the gold makes the rules.

Damn, I wish I hadn't read that Andy! Now I'm depressed.

"If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?"

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

Don't be depressed; be realistic

I just think we need to be realistic. We'll have universal health care just as soon as all of us who want it get together and fight as hard as the people who demand universal gun-carry rights!

Universal health care will happen just as soon as the politicians know that they will not be reelected until they make it happen--just surely as they know they will not be reelected if they pass gun-control legislation.

So let's not fool ourselves. Until that level of organization is reached, we will not have universal health care. And electing lily-livered Dems like Obama will not, in and of itself, make anything happen.

Nobody's picture

Ya'll are lying down and

Ya'll are lying down and whining about losing in the middle of the fight. I think I'll go out and get myself some public option...perhaps I'll call my Senator's office again, visit their offices downtown, do some phone banking with OFA, attend the Corker Town Hall in Loudon, and then hit the HUGE rally in Murfreesboro on the 3rd!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Upcoming events:

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Search and Archives