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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama sells out

As told by every Democrat's pal, Ralph Nader.

Comments (27)

Thanks for posting this, Jack.

Nice. I was drinking iced tea which came out my nose rather quickly upon reading some of this. Thanks for the laugh.

Some people seem to think that Dennis Kucinich, not Barack Obama, was elected president. Obama signaled throughout the campaign that his goal on health care was incremental change, with extending coverage the highest priority. Quoted in the New Yorker magazine all the way back in May 2007: "If you're starting from scratch, then a single-payer system would probably make sense. But we've got all these legacy systems in place, and managing the transition, as well as adjusting the culture to a different system, would be difficult to pull off. So we may need a system that's not so disruptive that people feel like suddenly what they've known for most of their lives is thrown by the wayside."

Meanwhile, can we all start thinking about the actual proposals on the table and how they might contain positive changes now and what additional changes might ultimately make them even better, vs. wailing about the "public option," which nobody had heard of a year ago and yet now seems to be the liberal cure-all (check out Ezra Klein's piece on that weird evolution).

Also worth reading, the column today by the Washington Post's Steve Pearlstein, who has been calling the right on their health-care lies and advocating reform. He says the left needs to let go of the public option because it won't do what they think it will do (and it does allow the right to characterize the reform proposals as a "government takeover).

In the 60's, women burned their bras and young draft age men burned their draft notices... will the new rebellion be burning our voter registration cards...

I read where some unions are threatening to have their membership just not show up at the polling places... using a term from the 60's, Right On....

Im getting to the point where the only votes I may consider casting will be for ballot measures and local referendums...

Why bother with anything else? Where's the difference in the 2 parties? Do they put on their little drama's for the tv cameras and then high five each other behind the curtains and say, Man these suckers will buy anything...I wouldnt be surprised if that's the reality.. I wouldn't be surprised one bit...

"Where's the difference in the 2 parties?"

Seriously? As Congressman Frank said earlier today: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

Okay, keep the comparison within the Democratic Party and compare this with the anti-war vote that gave Congress to the Dems in 2006.
Pelosi and company proceeded to say all the right things and then rolled over for the Bush administration time and time again.
Here there was vast talk of healthcare reform but behind closed doors the insurance companies and Big Pharma got what they wanted instead.
One theory voiced by the great Matt Taibbi is that there never really was any desire for a public option. It was all a dog and pony show as the Dems went on serving their corporate masters just as in 2006.
At least back then they didn't want to be seen as soft on terrorism. That was the excuse anyway.
What's the excuse this time? That they don't want to be seen as hard on corporations?
The only surprising part is that we're surprised.

Ah, the D's & the R's finally merged -- it's the (No) Surprise Party! Hey, we need a climate change of a different kind in the U.S.

Is the great Matt Taibbi aware that the public option proposal included in the House Education and Labor Committee legislation would be lucky to cover maybe 10 million people and would at best leave 17 million Americans uninsured? Jacob Hacker, the Berkeley prof who dreamed up the public option, envisioned a program that would need to be massive in order to work. Essentially, it needed to enjoy all the advantages that Medicare has—be huge, have low overhead, and possess the ability to pay providers less than what the insurance industry has. But the legislation gives the public option none of those advantages. So you've got the absurdity of "progressive" Democrats in the House saying a program destined to fail has to be part of any reform. Did the great Matt Taibbi mention that? We've got to stop treating this debate as the usual A vs. B political debate (call it Death Panels vs. Public Option this time around) and start looking hard at the real proposals on table, what their consequences might be and how they can be improved.

There is no real bill at this point. There are competing proposals but no main bill. And so the discussion is necessarily conceptual.

The great Matt Taibbi started by pointing out that single payer was off the table from the outset. Why is that? I have yet to hear an argument why single payer wouldn't be a huge improvement and don't try and say it's socialism because everything is still privately owned as far as practices, hospitals, etc...The part that is so crazy is having a doctor have to bill a different one of hundreds of insurers, each with their own forms and rules.
Our system is a paper document manufacturer that dabbles in healthcare.

But one point Matt made tonight that I'd like to hear someone refute is the stupidity of canceling public option as a way to get Republicans to vote for the bill. It won't get you any new votes, so why cave if it doesn't get you anywhere?

Which leads back to the theory that the Dems want to cave. They've been going through the motions from early on.

Matt also thinks the spineless way they mucked this up will be an albatross for them along the lines of the Iraq War for Republicans.

He did use the word "mystery" to describe President Obama's actions which is the exact word I've been using. Why is he doing this? If he's not a true believer just skip it, and if he is, why make the sleazy deals with the medical industry? Why risk his life with the public - and you know he has - and then fold to the suits in meetings?

Because, ultimately, he is a suit. Everything about Obama's meteoric rise inspires me but I do believe he drags the dead weight of a conventional Ivy League education behind him. There is a lot of learned behavior that comes from spending time in the hallowed halls. I really don't believe that complete free thought is an option once you emerge from conventionality. We may have to look elsewhere for truly progressive ideas and policies. But, for the moment, I'm enjoying a president that can put together three lucid words without a teleprompter.

Speaking of the Ivy League ... I don't think Obama was in the Skull & Bones, but he sure acts like it sometimes.

You need to conceptually sever the role of an insurance company in covering some insurable event and the role of an insurer in acting as a bulk services purchasing agent for covered insureds, in a package deal.

I cannot afford "insurance" either voluntarily or compelled Mitt Romney style (adopted by Hillary too) but I could still benefit from bundling discounts potentially offered by a provider to a "purchasing" coop.

Imagine an insurance company, for an insured event, having to cut a check on behalf of an insured to a coop of the insured's choosing that has bundling agreements of their own with a set of providers. A modern insurance company would object to this sort of arrangement, and simply refuse to offer "insurance" unless they also get to act as the purchasing agent. They get a cut for all transactions and from the premiums collected and invested even if the care provided for most clients is for some plain vanilla routine exam or visit.

Federal level legislation is perfectly suited to declare a refusal to accept a potential insurance client's designation of a coop purchasing agent other than an insurance company's in-house agent an illegal restraint of trade.

If the monster conglomerates with their interlocking boards and ownership and shared lobbying arms want to argue in favor of competition, then give it to them. Private competition.

As an uninsured I just hate to have to walk in blind and alone to a hospital to face whatever cost they choose to impose, which is likely higher than for insured folks. Let the uninsured's get the bundled discount prices, at least for basic services. This would represent an improvement for my access to medical care. This could also cover the void between covered and non-covered. That is, a discount could apply even if insurance plan provider X Y or Y denies coverage.

What will most certainly come out of this is not a remedy for anything.
That's not what big government does with big problems.
Primarily because too many people want the remedy to address a far greater agenda and "injustices" than the central problem.

No, we can't just provide some better delivery of health care to the genuinely needy with some tort reforms to lower costs for everyone.

The full monty is demanded instead.

And with the mix of millions of public employees insulated from "reform" and all those evil profit making corporations as targets and justification, we'll get exactly what today's electorate produces.
A friggin mess.

"Some people seem to think that Dennis Kucinich, not Barack Obama, was elected president."

best comment. you nailed it.

An earlier comment recommended Pearlstein's piece in today's WaPost. First-rate assessment of the flaws in public option. But that is really a small part of the debacle. At bottom, Obama's smart-ass team decided to take on a highly emotional issue without putting serious effort into a communication strategy, bottom-up. They failed to consider the political pressures in conservative House districts on House newbies. They've been Hans Brinker putting their collective fingers in the leaky dike, with their reactive, catch-up, responses to GOP attacks which--any honest person ought to agree--would have been quite predictable. Sorry, Ralphie, no evidence of serious foresight.

I'm disappointed but not surprised that so many continue to expect democracy to be clean and straightforward. The only things truly predictable about this process are that it will have twists and turns, it will take longer than expected, and there is no foregone conclusion. Oh and that it's not for sissies. The worst thing to do is abandon the effort because we're not there yet.

Sue Hagmeier, Do you think your antagonistic comments are going to win you converts to the Democratic Party?...PS -aren't you the communications secretary for Democrats in Oregon's Multnomah County?...

If democracy isn't for sissy's, maybe you should tell that to the politicians you front for that don't seem to know how represent the people that voted for them....

"The great Matt Taibbi started by pointing out that single payer was off the table from the outset. Why is that? I have yet to hear an argument why single payer wouldn't be a huge improvement . . ."

Single payer was off the table from the outset because it's too radical--for most politicians and most of the public. Most politicians aren't interested in wiping out the health insurance industry, and most of the public isn't clamoring for them to do so. The majority of people do, after all, have health insurance and would rather have the present patchwork mess shored up than thouroughly re-built.

Obama could fight for single-payer, but he'd surely lose.

Personally, I'd like to have a single-payer system in this country, because it seems like the most efficient way to provide health care. I'd be happy to see the private health insurance companies eliminated--even though I happen to have company-provided health insurance at the moment.

But I know that such radical, sudden change just isn't going to happen. And I'm not about to blame Obama for failing to deliver something he didn't promise.

Thirty years of Reaganism and pervasive anti-government rhetoric isn't overturned in a day--or perhaps even in the course of one progressive Democrat's presidential term.

--Medicare [2.0] for all !
I don't give a rat's azz if insurance leaches lose their
huge profits/salaries/bonuses.
We need to re-build our country on jobs that involve actual work , not skimming off the innocent.

I'm with you, billb. But I feel certain that a majority in Congress isn't. And I don't think Obama saw any chance of changing enough minds to get a single-payer system enacted.

I would like to hear the voices of the doctors Nader mentions enter the fray on behalf of a single-payer system. I know there is much I don't understand about the issue and suspect I am not alone. I do know that low-income peopleexperience a unique reality, where there is always an uphill stuggle to register as human beings, because they don't register financially, and I believe that those who have not spent time advocating for these people may not realize the extent to which they may have bought into the argument that poor people deserve to be mistreated and don't count. Nader is perhaps one of the most experienced voices for the individual, regardless of income, That the press made a cariacature of him and many of the rest of us went along with it is, in my view, a source of great shame.

The current Oregon Republican Party television ad is full of half truths, misinformation and inflammatory phrases.

If the Oregon Republican Party has any reasonable recommendations for revision and can manage to acknowledge that most of what they use to condemn the proposed plan already occurs with for-profit providers (denying coverage to certain age groups, making you use their providers rather than a doctor you may want), what they have to say might actually carry some weight.

It's all sensationalism.

Big Pharma isn't hurting. It has money to burn. All you have to do is watch prime time televison and count the number of ads for drugs. Those ads cost immense amounts of money to develop and to air. Where does Big Pharma get the money to peddle their products so heavily? Guess.

NY Times's Nick Kristof nails it today:

Prisons or Health Care?

"""Most politicians aren't interested in wiping out the health insurance industry, and most of the public isn't clamoring for them to do so."""

Dead wrong on the public part of that statement.

Thanks for posting this.

"Dead wrong on the public part of that statement."

I'd like to believe that you're right and I'm wrong.

But I see politicians who talk about the need to preserve private health insurance companies from "unfair government competition," and I don't see that this position gets them in trouble with the public. I also hear a lot of people saying that they want to retain their employer-sponsored insurance plans rather than go into a government program.

What's your evidence for thinking that the majority of the public is in favor of wiping out the health insurance companies in favor of one public plan?

I used to think everybody hated insurance companies, but as I've watched the healthcare debate unfold, it seems that irrational, generalized hatred of "government" is more prevalent than justified anger toward insurance companies.

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