15
Mar
10

Kucinich shames progressives who caved in, becomes a target

I think it's time you took a shower with my good friend Rahm....

Remember when moveon.org and other “progressive” groups raised over $400,000 to support members of Congress who refused to support any health care bill without a public option?

Well that was then. This is Now, and Moveon is threatening to “primary” progressives like Kucinich who haven’t changed their minds and continue to insist on a robust public option.

Jane Hamsher, pithy and succinct as usual:

I said “I find it odd that when it’s down to Joe Lieberman’s one vote, everybody shrugs their shoulders and says ‘oh well, we just have to write the bill Joe wants, because what can you do, one vote.’ And when it’s Dennis Kucinich’s one vote, which represents what 80% of the American people want, it’s “lets crush Dennis Kucinich so we can give Joe Lieberman everything he wants.” Somehow the argument keeps switching so that the corrupt deal that the White House negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies gets passed no matter what.”

We are all familiar with the president’s remarkable turnabout on his signature issue. We can speculate, with varying degrees of cynicism, about why he changed his mind, but the nation’s needs have not changed, and the legislation currently being considered does not begin to meet them.

Dr. Marcia Angell, editor emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine, reminded us of the big picture on Bill Moyers Journal last week:

BILL MOYERS: So, has President Obama been fighting as hard as you wished?

MARCIA ANGELL: Fighting for the wrong things and too little, too late. He gave away the store at the very beginning by compromising. Not just compromising, but caving in to the commercial insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry. And then he stood back for months while the thing just fell apart. Now he’s fighting, but he’s fighting for something that shouldn’t pass. Won’t pass and shouldn’t pass.

What this bill does is not only permit the commercial insurance industry to remain in place, but it actually expands and cements their position as the lynchpin of health care reform. And these companies they profit by denying health care, not providing health care. And they will be able to charge whatever they like. So if they’re regulated in some way and it cuts into their profits, all they have to do is just raise their premiums. And they’ll do that.

Not only does it keep them in place, but it pours about $500 billion of public money into these companies over 10 years. And it mandates that people buy these companies’ products for whatever they charge. Now that’s a recipe for the growth in health care costs, not only to continue, but to skyrocket, to grow even faster.

And I like Dave Lindorff’s straightforward argument about the costs of expanding Medicare to cover everyone. As far as I can see, no one else has pointed out the glaringly obvious fact that expanding Medicare would cost a lot, but it would subsume other programs that cost hundreds of billions:

This is madness. Expanding Medicare to cover everyone, as I have written earlier, would actually save everyone money immediately, and the country as a whole. Consider that the most expensive consumers of health care–the elderly–are already in the system. Adding younger, healthier people to Medicare would cost incrementally much less. That’s why the Canadians spend about 9 percent of their GDP on healthcare, while covering every Canadian, while we spend nearly twice as much and leave 47 million of our citizens uninsured and unable to visit a doctor. How could it be cheaper to add everyone to Medicare? Expanding Medicare to cover everyone would probably cost somewhere between $800 billion and $1 trillion a year. That sounds like a lot of money, until you consider that we already spend $100 billion a year to care for veterans through the Veterans Administration, and $400 billion a year to care for the poor through Medicaid. We also spend $300 billion a year subsidizing hospitals that have to provide “free” charity care to the poor who don’t qualify for Medicaid, too. Since all those people would be covered by Medicare under Medicare-for-All, that’s $800 billion a year in current expenditures saved right there.

I will just pass on Hamsher’s urging to take whatever action you can:

I still don’t know if they can pass this monstrosity of a bill. But if progressives stand down and do nothing while corporate America runs roughshod our institutions and our representatives, no member of Congress will ever have the political courage to stand up against corporate power again.

Call members of Congress who said they would vote against any bill that doesn’t have a public option. Tell them to keep their promise.

Update: Kucinich caved. “[A]las, the will of the people and the decisions made by those who are constantly trolling for corporate campaign contributions are seldom aligned.”

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