Summary: With Carter America returned to our 19th century tradition of electing cardboard cutouts as President. “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”! Obama stands tall as a proud addition to this roster. While his fidelity to his master might mean electoral defeat in 2012, they’ll easily find another man (or women) from which to manufacture a stirring (if fake) narrative.
On second thought, the summary said it all. So let’s discuss health care reform, in another 100% opinion post (with little supporting evidence). The basics are simple.
- It’s going to bankrupt us if not changed. Only with the Blue Fairy can fulfill the absurd promises made by the government.
- The operation of our system would be considered irrational and foolish by a colony of cherrystone clams.
- Our system costs roughly 2x (or more) than those of other developed nations, and produces inferior results (for those who fall between what we lightly call “the cracks”). We could throw darts at a map of the EU, adopting the system of the nation hit, with a massive improvement. After a generations of trial and error, designing an efficient (if not perfect) health care system is no long rocket science.
- This may have been our last opportunity for reform before a crisis. Medicare went cash-flow negative in 2004, and the deficit will grow inexorably each year.
With this backdrop, your local Boy Scouts could have devised a winning strategy. Focus on the uninsured. Make the hated insurance and drug companies, far more profitable than their foreign equivalents, pay. Center the program on an expansion of Medicare, deeply beloved by its “clients.” You have good coverage; why shouldn’t this sick little girl have medical care as good as yours?
Despite all these things, Obama’s project has been an almost total failure.
Step one was striking deals with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, so that “reform” would increase their profits. And guarantee that other powerful special interests (e.g., doctors) would not suffer a loss of income.
Step two was passivity in the face of nutty right-wing propaganda. Esp crazy were the horror stories from England and Canada. As if US healthcare does not generate thousand of equally awful stories. As if sane analysis does not show far superior results from the various proven superior systems.
Step three was defeat. The resulting bill, whatever it is, will be an ineffectual monstrosity. But hundreds or thousands of contributors to Presidential and Congressional campaigns will rejoice in their money well-spent.
Democracy (American-style) in action. Let’s hope that the next system, probably imposed on us, will work better.
Here’s some articles about this situation, which would have been rejected as too bizarre by the writers of Monty Python.
- “Why I Prefer French Health Care — The U.S. system’s deep flaws make socialism more tempting“, Matt Welch, Reason magazine, January 2010.
- “Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales“, New York Times, 28 November 2009
- “Promotional Spending for Prescription Drugs“, Congressional Budget Office, 3 December 2009
(4) Esp this: “White House as helpless victim on healthcare“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 16 December 2009:
Of all the posts I wrote this year, the one that produced the most vociferous email backlash — easily — was this one from August, which examined substantial evidence showing that, contrary to Obama’s occasional public statements in support of a public option, the White House clearly intended from the start that the final health care reform bill would contain no such provision and was actively and privately participating in efforts to shape a final bill without it.
From the start, assuaging the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries was a central preoccupation of the White House — hence the deal negotiated in strict secrecy with Pharma to ban bulk price negotiations and drug reimportation, a blatant violation of both Obama’s campaign positions on those issues and his promise to conduct all negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN). Indeed, Democrats led the way yesterday in killing drug re-importation, which they endlessly claimed to support back when they couldn’t pass it. The administration wants not only to prevent industry money from funding an anti-health-care-reform campaign, but also wants to ensure that the Democratic Party — rather than the GOP — will continue to be the prime recipient of industry largesse.
As was painfully predictable all along, the final bill will not have any form of public option, nor will it include the wildly popular expansion of Medicare coverage. Obama supporters are eager to depict the White House as nothing more than a helpless victim in all of this — the President so deeply wanted a more progressive bill but was sadly thwarted in his noble efforts by those inhumane, corrupt Congressional “centrists.” Right. The evidence was overwhelming from the start that the White House was not only indifferent, but opposed, to the provisions most important to progressives. The administration is getting the bill which they, more or less, wanted from the start — the one that is a huge boon to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry.
(5) “The Best We Can Do“, by digby, Hullabaloo, 115 December 2009 — Excerpt:
And Obama can say that you’re getting a lot, but also saying that it “covers everyone,” as if there’s a big new benefit is a big stretch. Nothing will have changed on that count except changing the law to force people to buy private insurance if they don’t get it from their employer. I guess you can call that progressive, but that doesn’t make it so. In fact, mandating that all people pay money to a private interest isn’t even conservative, free market or otherwise. It’s some kind of weird corporatism that’s very hard to square with the common good philosophy that Democrats supposedly espouse.
Nobody’s “getting covered” here. After all, people are already “free” to buy private insurance and one must assume they have reasons for not doing it already. Whether those reasons are good or bad won’t make a difference when they are suddenly forced to write big checks to Aetna or Blue Cross that they previously had decided they couldn’t or didn’t want to write. Indeed, it actually looks like the worst caricature of liberals: taking people’s money against their will, saying it’s for their own good. — and doing it without even the cover that FDR wisely insisted upon with social security, by having it withdrawn from paychecks. People don’t miss the money as much when they never see it.
And as for the idea that insurance reforms are a huge progressive victory that can only be accomplished once in a generation, well that’s a pretty sad comment on our country — and progressivism.
What this huge electoral mandate and congressional majority have gotten us, then, is basically a deal with the insurance industry to accept 30 million coerced customers in exchange for ending their practice of failing to cover their customers when they get sick — unless they go beyond a “reasonable cap,” of course. (And profits go up!) If that’s the best we can expect of progressivism for the next generation then I’m afraid we are in deep trouble.
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the following:
- About Obama, his administration and policies
- Politics of the FM site: radical leftist reformer or right-wing iconoclast?
Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.
Other posts about health care on the FM site:
- The perfidy of ABC News (tentative conclusion on a breaking story), 18 June 2009
- Beginning of the end of the Republic’s solvency. Soon come the first steps to a reformed regime – or a new regime., 14 August 2009
- Media madness #2 – their lies and ignorance make us stupid, 4 December 2009
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