UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 21, 2009

NADER ON THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE

Ralph Nader, Democracy Now - What is emerging here is what was being planned by the Obama White House all along, which is they would only-they would only demand legislation that was accepted by the big drug companies and the big health insurance companies.

You can see this emerging over the last few months. President Obama has met with the heads of the drug companies and the health insurance companies. Some executives have met with President Obama four to five times in the White House in the last few months. He has never met with the longtime leaders of the "Full Medicare for Everybody" movement, including Dr. Quentin Young, who is a close friend of his in Chicago; Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the head of the Health Research Group of Public Citizen; Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of the fast-growing California Nurses Association-not once in the White House.

That's all you need to know to realize that the deal that's being cut here is from Obama to Senator Baucus, the Blue Dog senator from Montana, who is cutting a deal, largely in private, with right-wing Republican senators and getting it through the Senate and presenting Henry Waxman and John Dingle and others in the House with a fait accompli. So whatever they pass in the House will be watered down in the Senate-House conference. And what we'll end up with is another patchwork piece of legislation, allowing huge and expanded profits for the health insurance companies and the drug companies, and continuing this pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. That's about fifty to sixty people who die every day.

The big mistake that the Obama administration made was they did not have continual public congressional hearings documenting the greed, the fraud, the $250 billion in billing fraud and abuse alone that the GAO years ago has documented. They didn't document the $350 billion of waste, the overhead of Aetna and United Healthcare and other health insurance companies with their massive executive salaries and bureaucracies. They did not document the deaths, the injuries, the sickness that hundreds of thousands of Americans go through every year because they can't afford healthcare. And by not doing that, by playing this behind-the-scenes game with these executives from the big health-industrial complex, they were vulnerable to the split in their own party in the House, with the Blue Dog Democrats emboldened by an apparently wavering and indecisive President Obama, and they made sure that they were placed on the defensive. . .

Obama is being undermined by his own party in Congress, because the Blue Dogs are getting far more money from these corporations and campaign contributions than the so-called liberals in the Democratic Party.

So why isn't the President of the United States, who was elected in large part by these same people, why isn't he representing them in Congress and in the White House? Because he is not a transforming leader. He is a harmony ideology person. He's a concessionary person. He wants any bill with the label "health insurance reform" on it, no matter what. He's not even willing to draw the line and say there will be no bill, I will veto any bill that doesn't have a vigorous public option, not a phony public option that will allow-that will allow people to be dumped into the public option when they're the sickest and leave the healthiest people for the profiteering insurance companies.

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