campaign contributions, Democrats, Glenn Greenwald, health care reform, individual mandate, insurance industry, Jay Rockefeller, PhRMA deal, President Obama, public option, reconciliation, Salon, Senate, subsidies, Villain Rotation
I hesitate to even comment on the health care reform charade any more because that’s exactly what it is and has been from the get-go, a charade. But Glenn Greenwald had a piece in Salon yesterday which nailed the situation perfectly. The bottom line is this–there will be no real reform for one reason–those in power don’t want it. Sure they, meaning the president and Democrats in the Senate, want to give the appearance of being for substantial reform, but the fact is they all benefit too much from the status quo. They aren’t about to kill the corporate goose that lays the golden campaign contribution eggs, and especially now that the Supreme Court has allowed corporations, like the insurance industry, to spend unlimited amounts on advertising for and against candidates.
Greenwald cites Sen. Jay Rockefeller as the latest example of what he calls “Villain Rotation.”
“They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.”
“Jay Rockefeller has waited a long time for this moment. . . . He’s a longtime advocate of health care for children and the poor — and, as Congress moves toward its moment of truth on health care, perhaps the most earnest, dogged Senate champion of a nationwide public health insurance plan to compete with private insurance companies.
“I will not relent on that. That’s the only way to go,” Rockefeller told me in an interview. “There’s got to be a safe harbor.”
“Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) threw a wrench into Democratic efforts to get a public option passed through reconciliation, saying that he thought the maneuver was overly partisan and that he was inclined to oppose it. . .
“I don’t think the timing of it is very good,” the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. “I’m probably not going to vote for that.”
“In other words, Rockefeller was willing to be a righteous champion for the public option as long as it had no chance of passing (sadly, we just can’t do it, because although it has 50 votes in favor it doesn’t have 60) But now that Democrats are strongly considering the reconciliation process — which will allow passage with only 50 rather than 60 votes and thus enable them to enact a public option — Rockefeller is suddenly “inclined to oppose it” because he doesn’t “think the timing of it is very good” and it’s “too partisan.” What strange excuses for someone to make with regard to a provision that he claimed, a mere five months ago (when he knew it couldn’t pass), was such a moral and policy imperative that he “would not relent” in ensuring its enactment.
The Obama White House did the same thing…[B]ack in August the evidence was clear that while the President was publicly claiming that he supported the public option, the White House, in private, was doing everything possible to ensure its exclusion from the final bill (in order not to alienate the health insurance industry by providing competition for it). Yesterday, Obama — while having his aides signal that they would use reconciliation if necessary–finally unveiled his first-ever health care plan as President, and guess what it did not include? The public option, which he spent all year insisting that he favored oh-so-much but sadly could not get enacted: Gosh, I really want the public option, but we just don’t have 60 votes for it; what can I do?.”
The problem was, and is, that the president and the Democrats in Congress are getting exactly what they wanted to start with. The backroom deal with PhRMA is intact. The individual mandate remains, forcing people to buy from private insurance companies. The president’s plan also raises the subsidies, which shovels taxpayers dollars to the same private companies, which in turn keeps the corporate contributions flowing and away from the Republicans.
If this plan passes, I would suggest buying stock in Aetna, WellPoint, United Health Care, et al. Maybe the dividends will help cover the cost of the premiums.