August 7, 2009

Health Reform Betrayal

Filed under: Civil Disobedience, Corporatism, Health Racket Bailout — Russell Bangs @ 3:22 pm

In recent days a series of news reports has provided us with the smoking gun, that on health care reform the Obama administration is not feckless and incompetent, but consciously and systematically acting against the public interest. Together these reports paint the picture of a secret deal in the White House with one feudal interest, while at the same time another deal with another interest is cut on Capitol Hill. Along the way there has been much prestidigitation and misdirection, with corporate media assistance. The result is intended to be for the mutual benefit of the rackets and of corrupt politicians, all the lucre sucked from the blood of the people.

First we have the secret administration deal with Big Drugs. As reported in the NYT, the administration and Senate industry flunkey Max Baucus have promised the drug industry that “reform” will not involve government negotiating the price of medication, will not encompass inexpensive Canadian imports, and will “block Congress” from any attempt to force the industry to enact savings of greater than $80 billion over ten years.

[Edit 8/8:  There is now a report that the administration is backpedalling from any such deal.  They’re at least embarrassed enough to claim so, but as from the start their words are muddled and uncertain.]

As head drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin put it, “$80 billion is the max, no more or less. Adding other stuff changes the deal.” According to the report, Tauzin, hearing of moves in Congress to impose cost savings beyond those agreed upon in the secret deal, demanded that the administration publicize it, and the Obamans complied.

[You may remember Tauzin as the Louisiana senator who spearheaded the Bush Medicare drug “benefit” which redistributed vast amounts of loot from the taxpayers to the big drug companies. Here too government was not allowed to negotiate rates or import from Canada.

In a particularly brazen example of a revolving-door deferred bribe, Tauzin left office shortly after to immediately take up the fat job of industry lobbying chief.

It’s rich how Obama came into office proclaiming with great fanfare how his administration would be off-limits to lobbyists. That was the very first promise revealed to be a lie.]

In an example of corporate media sycophancy, the article takes for granted that Obama still wants real reform, when the entire piece is dispositive evidence that “reform” is a sham. Here the administration is a principal in a conspiracy against the American people.

The piece quotes Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva, apparently displeased about the conspiracy but resigned to it: it puts dissenters in the “untenable position of trying to scuttle it”. Why would this kind of congressional action, scuttling the administration’s treasonous deal, be “untenable”, but the “Blue Dog” Democrats’ openly anti-public interest obstructionism and corporate welfarism isn’t considered untenable at all, or at least they’re not shy about trying it?

The article implies that Obama favors the drug interest over the insurance interest. His rhetoric has been friendly to the former, sometimes harder on the latter. But according to this BusinessWeek article, they have their own plan of attack, involving those same dog dems.

The feudal insurance racket’s goal is to block all real reform, especially any robust public option, and go through the charade of potemkin cost-cutting commitments and a sham “concession” on no longer excluding pre-existing conditions from coverage.

Their strategy is to get the dog dems to scuttle reform for them. These corrupt curs will either block a public option or gut it. At the same time the new coverage extended to the newly conscripted/insured (that sham concession) will actually have a much-reduced reimbursement rate, from an average of 76% (the original reform goal) to 65%. So they will have to “cover” you, but can gut the coverage even as they charge top dollar for it.

(At the same time these dogs are conspiring with lobbyists against the people, the administration either uses Republican opposition or is distracted by it. Thus even if, as according to the NYT article, Obama really is down on the insurance companies (which I don’t believe), the result is the same; they just make their deal elsewhere.)

In some particularly nauseating passages of the BusWeek piece, leading Dem mongrels like Jim Matheson and Mike Ross are quoted openly declaring their prostitution to UnitedHealth (a particularly aggressive lobbyist), while Virginia senator Mark Warner warns against reform as a “Trojan horse for single-payer”.

(This is a standard talking point allegedly against the public plan: that if you offer a robust public option people will opt for it. I confess that after seeing this argument a hundred times I still say the same thing I said the first time: so? Good!

That would be very strong evidence of what the “free market” wants, no? But of course this isn’t about any market or freedom. This is only about a rigged racket, and the preservation of rent-seeking privilege. It’s telling that even the MSM, always eager to give “both sides” of any story, no matter how much truth and justice resides with only one side, and always eager to give pro-corporate coverage, could still never come up with an argument against universal Medicare other than the unvarnished ugly truth that this could be bad only for the handful of insurance criminals. This speaks eloquently of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the anti-reform position.

This bankruptcy is also evident in the fact that, in spite of how Obama has disgracefully left open a complete public message vacuum for so many months, only now is the enemy finally starting to get some traction with its lies about “cost” and “choice” and “rationing”.)

But the media is still plugging away, whatever pathetic depths it must sink to. The nadir for a supposedly respectable newspaper has to be the NYT’s recent fluff piece on parasite lobbyist Karen Ignagni. Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith went so far as to declare it “clearly a PR plant”.     

All this really is sickening. This is what I feared and suspected all along, the nightmare scenario where not only would there be no reform, but the feudal parasite would end up further entrenched, with a “universal mandate” to provide a conscript market.

(This mandate, under these circumstances, would clearly be unconstitutional. The government cannot constitutionally force you to buy a private product as the price of merely being allowed to exist as a citizen.

There’s clearly no analogy with auto insurance, which is contingent upon the choice to own a car, or with Soc Sec/Medicare which are of course public programs.

The closest comparison is a poll tax.)

Health care is a social right. If this isn’t a core reason for having society in the first place, what is?

And if we’re to have Hobbesian anarchy, why not be honest and go all the way with it? Then men would rage anarchically against wealth and property, neither of which could exist except within society.

I would make the modest suggestion that the uninsured (of whom I have intermittently been one), before they accept the corporate media accusation that they are “free riders”, consider the monumental free riding of this purely parasitic private insurance “industry”, and consider how the political and media class are completely corrupted by and beholden to this parasite.

Having considered this institutionalized trillion dollar free ride, the uninsured should absolve themselves of any remorse they may have been inclined to feel over the one penny’s worth of their own “free ride”, and affirmatively declare that we refuse to buy such feudal policies at gunpoint, and we will indeed free ride if that’s the only way this system allows us to exercise our human right to decent health care. (And do you really believe that those alleged “subsidies” for those who can’t afford this extortion are ever going to materialize?)

Citizenship should say we’re willing to pay reasonable taxes for a single-payer system, or at the very least a strong public plan (i.e. a full extension of Medicare), but that we are NOT willing to pay extortion rates to prop up a criminal gang and the despicable politicians it has bought off.

That’s when civil disobedience must do the talking.


  1. Hells, yes! You nailed it! I’m linking to this on FB. Awesome.

    Comment by juliet — August 8, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  2. Thanks Juliet.

    Comment by Russ — August 9, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

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