Thursday :: Jun 18, 2009

Majority of Public Isn't Buying What Daschle and Dole Are Selling

by Deacon Blues

As soon as Congress began the debate in earnest on health care reform, you knew the usual roaches would emerge from the shadows, no matter what naïve talk was coming from the White House about “bringing people together on a solution.” With a public option supported by the progressive caucuses in both houses of Congress, it didn’t take long for the “moderates” and alleged fiscal conservatives, all of whom are already bought by the industries, to bellow about how unacceptable it will be for the government to compete with the private sector HMO’s.

Yeah, right. But then why haven’t any of you spineless whores found it unacceptable that the current system allows 46 million to go without insurance?

Cue the usual mouthpieces to ramp up against the public option and in favor of a toothless “co-operative” concept that would only kick in when the market failed again years down the road under a different administration to offer affordable coverage, allowing it to be killed outright. And who are those mouthpieces? Why, here comes Tom “The Tax Man Doesn’t Cometh” Daschle and Bob “Medicare Sucks Except for Me” Dole to lecture us about the evils of government competing with the HMOs, telling us with a straight face that insisting on a public option will undo all the progress the industry has made in creating a false sense of cooperation with reformists. Both Daschle and Dole were bought by the industry while they worked allegedly as public servants, and their wives lobbied or were bought by the same interests as well. So it should surprise no one that these two proponents of whatever is good for the Beltway would rise from the swamp now to warn us of the evils of keeping the industry honest with real competition. It should also surprise no one that Noodle Spine Daschle is at it again.

But as Soto said last night, it should also not surprise you at all that Obama could throw the public option overboard as well, to get a deal. He’ll do this, even though large majorities favor a public option, because he’ll be convinced by the Daschles and the Emanuels around him that a “bipartisan” deal with less than a full loaf of reform is better than 51% support in Congress for real reform. This is part of a kabuki dance where the White House is either being played or part of the walk-back:

1. Give some good speeches early about health care, tying it to costs;
2. Let progressives feel emboldened enough to step out first;
3. Float the trial balloon about a public option, knowing that
4. The usual suspects will push back and question whether anything will get done; and
5. Then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by settling for half a loaf and then taking credit for doing something, even if it is lacking.

And it's all playing out according to script right before our eyes.

Update: Leave it to Senator Russ Feingold to take to the floor of the Senate this morning and state the obvious:

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important elements of any reform, and that is a strong public health insurance option. Frankly, I am disappointed that this has become the topic of so much controversy, because it is such a fundamental part of making sure we provide the reform that my constituents, and all Americans, deserve. Some have even suggested scrapping a public option in the interest of passing a bill with bipartisan support. I want to pass health care reform and I hope very much we can do so with bipartisan support. But I am not interested in passing health care reform in name only. I am not interested in a bill that allows us to somehow tell our constituents we have done something but doesn’t really address their concerns. We need real reform, and real reform means a strong public option.

Of course, this same speech could have been given from the White House this morning by a president who had the guts and convictions to lay down a marker on the issue of real health care reform, before momentum builds behind the phoney reform offered by the Beltway toadies. But Barack Obama isn't that president.

Update #2: Chris Dodd has reaffirmed his support for a public plan option as well.

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