Friday, March 19, 2010


Sam Smith

The healthcare legislation is one of the most corrupt, inadequate, and cynical bills of purportedly noble purpose to move through Congress in the past 50 years. It greatly increases the public subsidy of the totally unnecessary health insurance industry. It does so in part by requiring a form of pizzo - mandatory payments to the health industry from lower income citizens not fortunate to have employer based insurance. It purports to end Medicare excesses but does little about the huge waste of private insurance or to restrict the overcharging for drugs by large pharmaceuticals.

The government's new subsidy to health insurance companies (either through helping people pay for their insurance or through the mandatory purchase of insurance) would be among the greatest government pork ever, similar to that in the bank bailout or in the subsidy of the defense industry by our military budget.

What is promised in return, as with the Mafia, is added protection. It lets you, a friend, your mother or millions others get treatment they could not otherwise afford.

This is what is so cynical, corrupt and rotten about the bill: when it does good it does it in the worst possible way.

But what would defeating the bill accomplish? How long would we have to wait for the godfathers of the Democratic Party even to propose another measure? This is the problem with living in a Mafia neighborhood. Even principle doesn't work the way it should.

A wiser course would be to let this sick measure wend its way to fruition and then strike it on other fronts. This is not giving up the battle, but choosing new battlegrounds.

Here are a few things that could happen:

- Joining with conservatives in some 36 states that are working to strike the clearly unconstitutional mandatory payment provision. If the Supreme Court knocks this provision down, the case for single payer immediately becomes stronger.

- In the words of Dennis Kucinich, "We can continue the discussion about comprehensive healthcare reform at the state level, because that's really where we're going to have to have a breakthrough in single payer."

- We can create state or national health insurance cooperatives, bearing in mind that surveys find that one of the most highly regarded businesses in America is an insurance cooperative: the United Service Automobile Association.

- We can work for single payers or for sensible steps in its direction, such as lowering the age of Medicare or letting people buy into the program.

- Progressives can finally dump Barack Obama and start looking for a better candidate in 2012. Obama has not only been dead wrong on many issues, on this one he has been dishonest - making backroom deals to kill the public option he claimed to like.

The primary message after the passage of this legislation should be that Obama and the Democrats may have won a battle, but the war goes on.

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