By Margaret Kimberley
The health care fiasco has bared the cowardly underbelly of the Democratic Party, which is putty in the hands of President Obama and his co-conspirators in the insurance industry. The conclusion is inescapable: Barack Obama and the majority of the Democrats never had any intention of bringing reform to health care.
As an Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama enthusiastically called for single payer health care. He said he wanted a system with “everybody in, nobody out.” Now that the very same Barack Obama is president of the United States, single payer is nowhere to be seen on his agenda. The words of the ambitious politician are inconsistent with his actions now that he is the president.
Not only did State Senator Obama say that he wanted single payer, but he laid out a road map for achieving his stated goal. “Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.” Now that all of those conditions have been met, he is the person currently occupying the White House, the health care “reform” plan currently under discussion does not include single payer.
What we do have is a plan to force the uninsured into purchasing health insurance. Single payer, Medicare for all, call it what you will, is now off the presidential and congressional table. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t even allow a vote on a Dennis Kucinich plan to give individual states the right to seek a public option. The little bit of change in the so-called reform amounts to nothing more than a bailout of the health insurance companies responsible for making American health care the deadly disgrace that it has become.
The systemic corruption in the Democratic Party has never been more obvious. The proposals put forward by Pelosi and Harry Reed are by the insurance companies, for the insurance companies and of the insurance companies. Not only is the party’s allegiance to corporate interest becoming clearer all the time, but so is their intention to do nothing for the people who gave them electoral victory.
Obama is not alone among Democrats in repeating the well-worn lie that they will be different and better than Republicans once they are in office. If a Democrat is president and if Democrats control the House, and if they have not only a majority but the magic number of sixty in the Senate, why is there no plan for true health care reform?
There is no plan for health care reform because too few Democrats really care about the issue in the first place. Some may care but have greater fear of insurance industry power and money going to bat for an opponent in a future campaign. And as in all other things, the fish still stinks from the head. President Obama made it crystal clear that his previous words on health care reform were nothing but empty campaign promises. He didn’t even directly involve the White House in crafting a bill. He left that to conservadem Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. It must have been the first time in history that a president handed off an issue to a member of congress who never even claimed to want the same thing.
The public option plan currently under consideration would cover approximately 2% of the public. Most workers will be in the same position after the over hyped “reform” takes effect in 2013. If they are lucky enough to be employed and to be offered coverage they will see no change in price, or quality of coverage. The uninsured will be forced to buy insurance at a rate up to 125% of current costs.A true public option will only be available to those without insurance who live in states choosing to opt in instead of out. Red staters will in all likelihood be out of luck.
Business Week magazine hit the nail on the head all too succinctly in their analysis of health care reform. “The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable.”
Republican posturing against the insurance company victory is just that, posturing. They are struggling with a moribund brand which has no appeal beyond their ever shrinking base. They obstruct for the sake of obstructing. The tea parties, town hall riots, and opinions of hateful pundits like Beck and Limbaugh are currently of no consequence and should not play a role in Democratic strategy. Their enmity does nothing but give Obama and the rest of the Democrats another excuse to stab the people in the back.
The unnecessary bowing and scraping to Senate Republicans like Olympia Snowe is a farce meant to keep us quiet and fool us into thinking that single payer is an impossibility. Sadly, the ruse will probably work. Too many progressives are the cheap dates of politics and will swoon if their idol emerges with a bill, any bill. In the end, they will all claim that the final product is the only possible outcome and those of us who dare to say otherwise ought to be ignored.
No one should be fooled by the idol worshippers. We are entitled to our opinions, but not to our own facts. The facts in this case are not debatable. Barack Obama and the majority of the Democrats never had any intention of bringing reform to health care.The citizens of this country won’t have true change in health care or anything else unless they fight for it and unless they acknowledge they will be fighting Obama and the rest of the Democrats too.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.