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Obama as Head Waiter for the Plutocracy: Help Kill the "Cruel and Sleazy" HCR Bill

Thread: 

http://www.counterpunch.org/redmond12232009.html

Helen Redmond in a scalding analysis of presidential and congressional (especially on the part of supposedly “progressive” Democrats) betrayal of the US citizenry with the health care fiasco now being hypocritically and dangerously heralded as “historic reform” writes:

Millions believed Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to create a humane, affordable and inclusive health care system and rein in the copious abuses of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. On the campaign trail, Obama proclaimed these corporations were greedy and more concerned about profits and patents than the needs of patients. Some thought because Obama was a former supporter of a single-payer system, he might just enact it when he won the Whitehouse. How wrong they were.

No one could have predicted how much influence and control over health care reform President Obama would give to the very corporate interests killing and bankrupting the American people, and who just a few months earlier, had fiercely attacked and called out by name. No one could have predicted the scale and scope of the sell out. It is truly astounding given the soaring rhetoric of before and the cruel and sleazy reality of now.

“The cruel and sleazy reality of now."

I worked for Obama at the eleventh hour. I was one of the 80 million who responded to his invitation to hope. What he is doing right now along with a corporate-prostituted Congress? It is cruel and it is sleazy. It is anti-democracy. It cries out for citizen awareness, outrage and pushback!

More of Redmond’s outrage:

The fish rots from the head down (fish have no spines, either.) Obama set the tone for capitulation and compromise and the rest of the Democrats, the tempo. With breathtaking speed they dismissed, deneutered, and dealt away anything and everything the killer corporations objected to.

[snip]

And what of the amendments supported by members of the Progressive Democratic Caucus, the supporters of single-payer (SP): John Conyers, Anthony Weiner, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and Jan Schakowsky?

At every critical moment these politicians with vertebrae composed of Jello compromised, backed down and conceded. Their allegiance to the Democratic Party and to President Obama trumped everything. There was nothing they were not willing to compromise away, no constituency that couldn’t be thrown under the bus for the sake of passing a bill; most appallingly women and abortion rights. With the exception of Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa, they all voted for the house bill that contained the Stupak Amendment.

[snip]

The progressive Democrats sold out on single-payer early on when they backed the public option. This created enormous confusion: How could they advocate for both single-payer and the public option when the two are diametrically opposed? It didn’t take long before they all shilled almost exclusively for the public option.


http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/a-patient%E2%80%99s-view-of-the-senate-christmas-healthcare-gift

Here’s how Donna Smith describes the newly passed Senate Healthcare bill:

A lump of Christmas coal all polished up with sparkling rhetoric.

Ms. Smith quotes the Chicago Tribune as concluding the main culprit of the toxic state of this plan as "a revolving door between Capitol Hill staffers and lobbying jobs for companies with a stake in health care legislation."

She writes:

The study found that 13 former congressmen and 166 congressional staffers were actively engaged in lobbying their former colleagues on the bill. The companies they were working for -- some 338 of them -- spent $635 million on lobbying. It was money extremely well spent -- delivering a bill that, by forcing people to buy a shoddy product in a market with no real competition, enshrines into law the public subsidy of private profit.


http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/22/health_care/index.html

Glenn Greenwald on the benefits of one lobbyist’s windfall:

Just to put this boon to health insurance stocks in perspective: according an Indianapolis Star article from June, Evan Bayh's wife, Susan, "owns from $500,001 to $1 million in employee stock in WellPoint, the Indianapolis-based insurance giant on whose board she sits." That would mean that the value of her personal holdings in that one health insurance company alone, in the last six weeks alone (since Lieberman and her husband began menacing the public option), would have increased by a value of between $125,000 and $250,000. As part of the bonanza of health care industry board positions she magically received since her husband became a Senator, Susan Bayh is given a quarter-million dollars each year in stocks and stock options from Wellpoint. That's just a microcosm for considering how well Obama's so-called "special interests" have done as a result of this health care bill.

It is hard to fathom just how much money Obama (and before him Bush and before Bush, Clinton) and our Congress have and are transferring into corporate hands and guaranteeing will be transferred to them for generations thanks to the continuing deregulation and sell-outs. We watched with horror as it happened so recently with the banks. It happened and continues to happen with the illegal wars for corporate agendas that get so little moral attention from leadership, citizenry and media. It is happening with the insurance and pharmaceutical mega-corporations as I write.


http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/nation%E2%80%99s-largest-rn-organization-says-healthcare-bill-cedes-too-much-to-insurance

Karen Higgins, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, says of the Senate health care bill it “cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry,"

She goes on:

"Sadly, we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true healthcare reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the chokehold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations,"


http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/hold-the-hyperbole-on-the-senate-health-bill

Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive cites four problems the leaders of the Physicians for National Health Program determined:

One: “The bill’s anti-abortion provisions would restrict reproductive choice, compromising the health of women and adolescent girls.”

Two: “The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans—deceptively labeled a ‘Cadillac tax’—would hit many middle-income families.”

Three: “The bill would drain $43 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the 23 million who will remain uninsured even if the bill works as planned.”

And four: “The bill would leave hundreds of millions of Americans with inadequate insurance. . . . Predictably, as health care costs continue to grow, more families will face co-payments and deductibles so high that they preclude adequate access to care.”

This last point puts the lie to the claim that the bill will cover 26 million more Americans. Actually, it will force most of those 26 million either to buy private insurance or pay a fine of $750 a person or $2,250 a family by the year 2016. Millions of people will likely to choose to pay that fine rather than pay the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles that can reach four, five, or six times the fine.


http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/a-less-than-honest-policy

Bob Herbert eloquently refers to the Senate’s supposed taxation of over the top plans (issue Two) as a “middle class ticking time bomb”. He warns it is a tax that in a few years will force millions of middle class policyholders to scale back seriously from effective medical care. It is a LIE from Obama and the Congress to us.

Herbert writes:

The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

“In the real world, companies cut costs and they pocket the money,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and a leader of the opposition to the tax. “Executives tell the shareholders: ‘Hey, higher profits without any revenue growth. Great!’ ”

The true “Cadillac” or rather “Rolls Royce” plans such as those belonging to the Congress and President deserve to be taxed, not the hard-fought benefits given to union workers in lieu of wages. Not to those still managing in this “jobless recovery” to remain supposedly “middle class.”

Herbert rightly scolds:

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it. Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.”


http://www.counterpunch.org/redmond12232009.html

Helen Redmond’s invocation:

Back to correct lessons learned. Number one: DON’T TRUST THE DEMOCRATS – NOT A ONE. Especially the progressive Democrats. When push comes to shove they will not stand and deliver, they will back the status quo. The stunning series of sellouts of single-payer must not be forgotten. Number two: We have to build an independent movement for health care that is so large, so powerful, so full of fury and so uncompromising that whatever party happens to be in power is forced to abolish the private for-profit insurance industry and enact single-payer. That is the only way it will happen - by the force of hundreds-of-thousands of people in the streets, sitting in at insurance companies and in the corridors of Congress. When we do that history will truly be made and health care will finally become a human right in the United States.

Until that day, we remain a nation of hostages to the health insurance corporations.


http://www.correntewire.com/project_5_5_my_personalized_chain_letter_kill_bill_fwiw

This is my own invocation from an earlier corrente blog:

Both legacy parties have betrayed us and are continuing to. We are coming up on another horrifying “bail-out” of the perpetrators of our problems in America, the mega-corporations. The top 1% wealthy elite are steadily worsening the lives of the incredibly lower 90% of us! Those who should be protecting us from this travesty are enabling them. Are selling out for their own financial profit and amoral career ambitions.

We as citizens need to rally against these oligarchs who are ferociously worsening our lives and our democracy, stealing from our revenue, stripping us of our human and constitutional rights and protections.

Dr. Howard Dean has declared the current Senate health care reform bill will prove a bigger bail-out than AIG. I also see the bill as a Trojan horse that will cause more problems than it solves.

Polls have indicated for some time that 64% of Americans want a single payer Medicare for All system for universal health care (universal coverage that every other industrial nation besides the US guarantees as a human right to its entire citizenry), and this high percentage expands to a hefty 76% of Americans who want at the very least a system that includes a “public option” as a “starter system” to reduce costs of commercial insurance and pharmaceuticals and puts us on a road to universal health care.

Why are our President and Congress and our media IGNORING AND DEFYING the mandate of the people? Obama removed the idea of a single payer system from the table immediately. Congress concurred. Yet it is the only system that is humane, universal and fiscally sustainable and practical.

Why is the corporate media treating this vast majority of citizens as a “fringe” group, and not taking its needs, desires and common sense seriously?

[snip]

Toll-free switchboard numbers for the Senate and House: 1-800-828-0498, 1-866-338-1015, 1-866-220-0044.

Contact info for Senators or Representatives here:
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

To send letters:

Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

or

House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

[snip]

Please join this vital fight now. As the adage goes, if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. And consider Edmund Burke’s powerful message, also, about how evil prevails when good people do nothing.

If we each contact five representatives to express our outrage and pass on this blog, or any blog honestly addressing Obamacare, as a link in an email to five friends to encourage them to express their outrage to five friends and five representatives, these ripples would have an impact. Our democracy needs to be protected by the grassroots citizens. It is getting tragically little protection from those oath-breaking sell-outs at the top!

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Submitted by lambert on

(I say "go die" because "drop dead" is really a metaphor, but the deaths that the Democrats could be preventing, and have chosen not to, are quite literal and quite real.)
PNHP:

The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.

Mission accomplished! Fuck the base. they're high cost "human resources."

Submitted by lambert on

(I say "go die" because "drop dead" is really a metaphor, but the deaths that the Democrats could be preventing, and have chosen not to, are quite literal and quite real.)
PNHP:

The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.

Mission accomplished! Fuck the base. they're high cost "human resources."

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I suspect the NYC employees' health care plans are a target of this tax, for reasons you mention. So where the heck is my frickin union?

::crickets::

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

What a great angry piece, lib. Thanks for it your anger keeps me going.

Submitted by jawbone on

When do we get the disaffected of the Democratic Party to take actions which just may get some attention?

Of course, the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) is working hard to support Obama and polish this turd. Bamboozling the public, all of them (BO and Big Dems, Little Dems included).

National day, week or month or deregistration is a must. I have not yet changed my registration -- been kinda holding back to see if we can get a national movement going. Only large numbers will have a hope of impresssing the Dems. The ;eft is being marginalized by both the MCM and the Dems. Sheesh. Enough.

Where you gonna go, sweeties? Don't know, but we are finally recognizing this loutish party is not going to change the way it treats us.

Submitted by lambert on

... but I think that August 26, 1920 is a little late in the year to get attention.

Lincoln's birthday (which is not a Federal holiday, oddly, or not) is IIRC February 12.

I like the idea and I'm sure there are other days that would be good.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

How about a mass de-registration from the Dem party the day or soon thereafter Obamacare passes?

Submitted by libbyliberal on

How about a mass de-registration from the Dem party the day or soon thereafter Obamacare passes?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I've been waiting to de-register because I want to keep the ability to vote in primaries. (In NY, you can't vote in primaries unless you are registered with one of the legacy parties.)

Something like the day after the Health Whatever bill passes would be a good idea. Knowing Obama, he'll try to get it done near a holiday for publicity purposes; Lincoln's birthday (since he pretends he is just like Lincoln) or Presidents' Day - one of those days is probably when it's going to happen.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

...when Russ Mokhiber linked to it. But as an editor and precision junkie I bristled at the description in the first sentence of the SP movement as "nascent"; the veterans at PNHP who've been at it for more than two decades would surely take issue. I forgave that and pushed on until hitting the assertion that fish have no spines, and then I simply had to bail.

Submitted by lambert on

And again, I reject all narratives of Democratic weakness.

They are not weak. They are doing exactly what they want to do.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Yes, ralph. Good points.

I get seduced by the anger. Skated by fish have no spines.

But I am glad she called out ALL the progressives.

I wish Sanders would have let the amendment be read in its entirety. He caved for the good of the perpetually back-stabbing party? Yeah, they play hardball back when you are out on the limb ... but does Sanders know how many of us are in his corner outside of the Senate? That he has justice exclusively on his side?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I really enjoyed reading all the different perspectives.

I do get rather tired of the "no one could have predicted" line from pundit types like Redmond. A little research on their part was all that was needed, and isn't that their job?

For example, Redmond and the other journalists who bought into Obama's alleged "progressivism" on health care, should have checked out what he proposed in Illinois when he worked on health care as a State Senator. It most assuredly was not single-payer and there was no public option. I can't link because I'm on my BB, but I believe the article I am thinking of was by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

This type of "no one could have predicted" self-excusing bullshit is why I haven't forgiven a lot of the people I used to read religiously. If they would just have the courage to say they were wrong about Obama, as you do, libbyliberal, then that would be a huge step in re-unifying the left in the blogosphere. (Of course, people like Booman would have to stop with the misogyny too.)

I applaud all the Obama supporters who have that courage. I hope many more will follow your example.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

madam, I have been since forever the proverbial "lazy liberal" and have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for helping with your shares like this one.

Working for Edwards was an education. Something felt "off" while doing it ... a remoteness from the handlers and the candidate to the workers, but the populism and his blueprint with specifics held me.

And what an education re the biased anti-democratic corporate media to watch him be edged out so, as other progressives had been, but being so committed to JRE made it all the clearer. Charlie Rose had a round table discussion of who would win the primary ... Hillary or Barack when JRE was still supposedly a strong contender and in the 3-way debates. Charlie and company didn't even acknowledge his existence. The power of media omission and neglect, etc. The hubris of the big boys.

"Settling and hoping" with the Obama hype at the end... it felt so ungrounded ... and the generalized rhetoric ... and I wondered why Obama didn't reach out for the Edwards folk to join him ... but now I see why that didn't happen. The willingness to be seduced deeper into denial. Drink that damn kool-aid when you are so thirsty for hope and change from 8 years of surreal and evil Bush.

Thank God for the non-lazy in the counter-culture. More and more of us gotta start un-lazying ourselves.

I got that book, Censored 2010 from media democracy in action. The truth is out there. We just have to dig it out. Spread it. Heed it. Time for America to begin to "handle the truth" eh? One ex-lazy liberal at a time.

Happy new year and new decade to us. The marathon to the truth continues. :)