Local Gov’t Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
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Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
10.19 How big pharma's money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis [most governments impose price controls, but US Republicans and neoliberal Democrats are bribed to pretent that's not possible]
10.19 Self-harm among girls aged 13 to 16 rose by 68% in three years, UK study finds [drug use and crime are also caused by the same factors, but the $millionaires demand another tax cut so...]
10.19 Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers [Good job, Monsanto!]
10.18 'This is a really big deal': Canada natural gas emissions far worse than feared [roughly equivalent to all the cars and trucks in Canada]
10.13 Climate Change Is Making It Harder to Grow Rice [might there be a “perennial rice” with much deeper roots to survive droughts?]
10.13 'If the land isn't worked, it decays': Tunisia's battle to keep the desert at bay [beautiful business plan for LIFE]
10.13 Trump scraps Obamacare subsidies in surprise late-night announcement [videos; his Infantilism should cause his impeachment]
News Media Matters
10.15 The Establishment Still Doesn't Recognize The Political Revolution That's Happening [the question is, CAN MAINSTREAM NEWS MEDIA – desperate for corporate advertising as revenue falls – ALLOW CHANGE TO HAPPEN?]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
10.19 Is racial bias driving Trump’s neglect of Puerto Rico? [the evidence is obvious]
10.19 Even After Equifax and Wells Fargo, GOP Sides With Big Financial Institutions [as do neoliberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton]
10.18 TA-NEHISI COATES UNPLUGGED [audio & transcript]
10.16 The Texas town where all the energy is green [Alert! Ignoring party leadership, exceptional Republicans use reason to do good!]
10.17 Trump could remake judiciary for ‘40 years’ — with controversial picks [America will become more like Malta; facilitating corporate/mafia criminality to the maximum]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
10.17 Trump Revives Notorious GOP Dog Whistle in Call for 'Welfare Reform' [less money "wasted on welfare" would allow larger tax cuts for "the more deserving rich"]
10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire friends and himself]
International & Futurism
10.18 Robots Are Coming for These Wall Street Jobs [interactive graphics]
10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire cronies and himself]
10.17 The Movement of #MeToo
Say 'Good-bye' to the Nice Health Care Reform, Kids
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Real health care reform of the kind that Democratic candidates were promising during last year’s presidential campaign is dead, killed by the timidity of President Barack Obama and by massive corruption of Congress.
Of course I could be wrong. Congress could turn around and pass some cockamamie scheme to kick the issue of health care reform down the road, offering some kind of minimal insurance coverage to a few million more people, and cracking down on this or that particularly egregious health provider rip-off, and then staging a “mission accomplished” photo op.
But real health care reform of the kind that Democratic candidates were promising during last year’s presidential campaign is dead, killed by the timidity of the promiser-in-chief, President Barack Obama (and by the massive corruption of the Democrats in Congress, who have accepted the tainted coin of the health care industry).
Obama could have come to the American people as a newly elected leader and addressed us as adults, saying: “Look, we know what needs to be done. Plenty of countries in Canada, Europe and elsewhere have figured it out already. They set up the government as the single payer to health providers—doctors and hospitals, etc.—and the government bargains and sets the prices those private providers of health care can charge. Of course that means you’ll all pay higher taxes to finance such a plan, but the record of all those countries shows that you’ll be saving money over all, because you won’t be paying for health insurance, your employer won’t be paying for health insurance, you won’t be paying co-pays and deductibles, and you won’t be getting gouged for drugs or hospital stays or doctors’ bills. You won’t be paying state taxes for Medicaid either, nor will your insurance and local property taxes have to subsidize the hospital care of indigents. On balance, you’ll all be saving money, and you’ll never have to worry about disease or injury bankrupting you. Nor will employers be able to hold you hostage any longer. The reality is that the countries that have a single-payer plan are spending half of what we spend per capita for health care, they have no uninsured citizens, and their health overall, as measured by such things as longevity, infant mortality, etc., is better than ours.”
The president could have said all this and rallied the tens of millions of Americans who desperately want a health care system modeled on the single-payer idea to his side, forcing Congress to go along or pay the price in 2010.
Instead, this president who, in years past as a senator, as a state representative and as an activist had praised the idea of single-payer, has taken to saying it’s important do keep the private health insurance industry in business. Instead of inviting Canadian administrators of that country’s successful system down to talk about how it works up there, he barred even American advocates of single payer from speaking at his talk-fests on health care reform at the White House. Instead of taking an axe to the US Medical-Industrial Complex, he has pretended he could reform the current profit-crazed system we have in the US without raising taxes. Instead of pointing out that we already have a well-functioning single-payer system for our elderly and disabled in the form of Medicare, he has spent his time badmouthing the single-payer idea, even claiming that it’s not part of our “American” tradition.
But let’s note that Obama’s sell-out on health care reform was aided and abetted by the progressives, the left groups and political organizations and the unions that failed to hold him to his earlier espousal of single-payer, that instead of calling him out on his cave-in, bought into his initial compromise of a so-called “public option” insurance alternative, and even into his subsequent backdown to an even more watered-down version of possibly state-run or “cooperative” plans.
Now his political cowardice and mendacity have caught up with him. His “plan,” if it can even be called that, of mandating employer health coverage and then adding a government-run alternative “public option” to existing private insurance, has understandably failed to excite the public, while still arousing the passionate opposition of conservative Republicans and conservative members of his own party, and meanwhile does nothing to limit soaring health costs, which already eat up a fifth of the entire gross domestic product of the nation, requires an increase in taxes and reductions in Medicare, will probably, if established, lead to more companies actually dropping their current benefit programs in favor of a cheaper, stripped-down government plan, and yet will still leave millions of people unable to get access to timely, quality, affordable medical care.
Furthermore, his apparent failure to deliver on this key initiative will deal a body blow to his political clout on other initiatives, such as tackling climate change and dealing with an acute economic crisis.
If I’m right that health reform is dead, so is Barack Obama’s presidency. President Bill Clinton’s new administration foundered early on following his shameless backdown on a pledge to guarantee the right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. It never recovered. President Obama’s new administration is foundering on his equally shameless backdown on a promise to establish a system of quality affordable health care for all.
About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on July 14, 2009.