Friday, December 11, 2009

The Public Option Is Dead, Long Live Medicare for 55 and Other Cave-ins Along the Way

This is not what progressive Democrats and Obama voters bargained for:
  • First, a bailout of Wall Street -- Big Banking and too-big-to-fail investment firms -- with no strings attached, no curbs on indecent bonuses, and no regulatory reform (waiting, waiting . . .);
  • Second, a watered-down stimulus bill with inadequate funds, few job-creation measures (paging FDR and the WPA) thanks to the President's sought-after vote of a Republican dope from Maine, Senator Susan Collins; as if she and her colleague Olympia Snowe suddenly controlled the entire progressive agenda in their stupid, half-measures middle-of-the-roadkill hands;
  • Third, the healthcare reform soap opera, still in progress with tumbling ratings, and a Democratic compromise (cave-in?) with itself behind closed doors to get the votes of reactionary senators Ben Nelson, Blanche (what she does with every mention of a government-run public option to compete with the private insurers and keep prices down) Lincoln, malleable Mary Landrieu, not to speak of Traitor Joe, the Democratic Caucus court jester, who is biding his time to deep-six healthcare with much fanfare for his insurance lords; and
  • Finally, the heavy medal Nobel (in anticipation of a swift) Peace Prize President, who seems determined LBJ-like to consume the entire Democratic progressive domestic agenda in the execution of foreign wars, the pursuit of terrorists, protecting the nukes of a failed state from falling into the wrong hands -- which is it or all of the above?
No, this isn't what the voters bargained for, although as they say, the devil's in the details. Is the Democratic compromise to kill an already watered-down beyond recognition public option in favor of extending a Medicare buy-in to those uninsured Americans 55 and up a good thing? Some prominent progressives -- Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Anthony Weiner -- say yes, which is reason enough to believe the reactionary insurance ("we won!") industry shills in the Senate won't back it once the CBO numbers come in . . . or they'll water it down beyond all recognition so Harry Reid can slap a reform tag on it, and the President can hold his extraordinary "I've achieved healthcare reform for the American people" signing ceremony with insurance executives, just offstage, the only ones smiling broadly at the prospect of 30 million more customers to gouge.

"We won!" Did we?

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