Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama's Benign Betrayal

Inevitable as it was, news of the President's caving in on the public option brings sad confirmation that the sellout of true health care reform was inevitable.

"The White House," reports the New York Times today, "facing increasing skepticism over President Obama’s call for a public insurance plan to compete with the private sector, signaled Sunday that it was willing to compromise and would consider a proposal for a nonprofit health cooperative being developed in the Senate."

Only yesterday, the President was OpEding on the same pages, "We have broad agreement in Congress on about 80 percent of what we’re trying to do," but the ground he is ceding to the Congressional Establishment and lobbyists is the difference between repair to a bad system and real reform.

After months of insisting that a government plan was needed to "keep the insurance companies honest," the President is backing off by telling a Colorado town hall yesterday, "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it. And by the way, it's both the right and the left that have become so fixated on this that they forget everything else."

Not so. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand may reflect the President's conviction that half a loaf or three quarters is better than none, but it's Bill Clinton-slippery of him to label it a right-and-left issue, sidestepping the fact that Max Baucus, recipient of $3 million from the industry over five years with a platoon of former staff members working as lobbyists for them, is prevailing in the Senate Finance Committee, to gut the legislation of its crucial elements.

In the face of the ideological madness that has been stirred up on the subject, Obama's backing off is understandable for the pragmatists in the White House but bitterly disappointing for an Administration that promised to overcome politics as usual and fight for real Change.

The patchwork legislation to emerge will leave Democrats claiming victory and Republicans denouncing a government takeover of health care, but both will be trading politically on what will be a betrayal of the long-term public interest on a critical issue.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

About the current healthcare debate, here is a brief vignette to share with you:

Last weekend, the healthcare controversy came to my door when friends from South Florida arrived for a visit (…) My former neighbors and now dear friends had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Her cancer is treatable and manageable, but she suffers from fatigue and takes mega doses of Percocet and morphine to relieve pain. Last week, she and her husband checked into a Marriot Inn near the clinic for days of blood tests, X-Rays, MRIs, and consultations (…) On Monday morning, just before their return trip to Jacksonville for more diagnostics, the hospital called their cell phone: Their insurance carrier had not “pre-authorized” the tests.”

The full story here.

Anonymous said...

This is a complicated issue, and
there is probably no one right

Maybe a government beauracracy
handling health care is not the
perfect right answer, and private
co-ops competing could do as well.

We'll see.