Wednesday, August 19, 2009


No one should be under any illusions about what is happening. This is about Barack Obama giving in in advance to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. The capitulation happened a long time ago, and Obama and Rahm ("Blue Dog") Emmanuel were the ones who made it happen.

Whether or not Obama could have done otherwise is really irrelevant -- though surely he could have, at least to some degree. What matters is recognizing the alignment of forces and opposing it.

Glenn Greenwald (read his post for all the links and substantiation):

The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill. But -- given the impossibility of achieving that goal [getting GOP support] -- isn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along.

The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).

This is how things always work. The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way. When is the last time they didn't? The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach) -- and the vast, vast majority of progressives (all but the most loyal Obama supporters) who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform. But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support. Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want.

* * * * *

That's why this debate has now taken on such importance -- regardless of whether you think a public option is important or even if you think it's a good idea. Thanks in large part to the months-long efforts of Jane Hamsher and her FDL team -- who spent enormous amounts of time and resources getting large numbers of progressive House members to emphatically commit on video to opposing any health care bill that lacks a robust public option -- there's actually a chance this time that the outcome could be different. If those progressive House members actually adhere to their pledge, they can and will block any health care bill that lacks a public option. They can actually thwart industry demands and the dictate of Beltway leaders; can empower a new faction in Washington (themselves) beholden to different interests (ordinary citizens); and can vest some actual significance in the outcome of the 2006 and 2008 election.

UPDATE: Sign this petition being gathered by FDL for presentation to the House. Here is the message I sent to House Dems:

You have to take a stand sometime.

There is more to life than smooth functioning.

Without principles, the Democratic masters of profit and competence will become indistinguishable from suicidal Republican nihilists.

Or worse. At least Republican rage and insanity betray a residual self-disgust, which Rahm Emmanuel seems to lack.

You cannot count on sane people always to choose the lesser of two evils. Eventually, this logic leads to the precipitation of a third position -- the least evil of non-collaboration.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?