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Michael Hammerschlag: Health Fiasco

Health Fiasco

by Michael Hammerschlag

Well, Universal Health Care as we know and wanted it seems to be crumbling- oh it might be near universal, but if the public option is really gone, so expensive that America’s financial health will be permanently destroyed. Obama simply did not go for victory- but invited the foxes into the chicken coops to divide up 80% between them- the remaining 20% will be additional benefits for the public- too little, too crooked, too costly. Obama’s obsession with compromise and bi-partisanship is dooming his initiatives and maybe Presidency- he simply doesn’t plan and mobilize for victory, but includes his deadly opponents. The idea that the totally prostituted Repubs (and a third the Dems) could be catered to and brought in to contribute on this was always crazy- they needed to be sidelined, marginalized, and overrun with a multi-pronged attack.

He knew what was coming- unless he blanked out the Clinton health plan immolation - and he should have prepared for it- barnstorming across the country demonizing the greedy insurance, hospital, and doctor associations and highlighting their Congressional payoffs (Olbermann trashes the corrupt swine of both parties) until even the bought off Reps would have been afraid to publicly oppose Obama’s health care plan. All the lies that they were going to use should have been lampooned and excoriated- that’s what a good lawyer does- highlight the dishonest arguments of the opposition before they can make them. Every single arm should have been twisted and the public rage at the corporate parasites feeding on their misery stoked to a steel-bending temperature.

Imagine- the insanely corrupt “no negotiation for bulk drug purchase” Medicare Drug Benefit provision is enshrined in this bill- the single greatest corporate payoff in human history, estimated to waste $65 billion a year (at a 81% bulk discount) - the whole plan could be mostly paid for if this provision to pay these arbitrary retail pie-in-the-sky prices (stemming from the usurious Viagra exploiflation) had been scuttled. In the “primitive” former Soviet Union, most drugs cost under 10% of the West and don’t need any prescription. The best option that works around the world- single payer, estimated to save 60% of the wasteful spending- was never even considered because of corporate veto power.

Bob Herbert shares my disgust. “This resulted in big grins and high fives at the drug lobby. The White House was rolled.”

The paid town hall screamers could have been shut down by requiring proof at the door that they were constituents, stationing police or security guys in the halls to drag them out (like at any Bush rally), or identifying the handful of hecklers and banning entry. What they were were simply corporate political terrorists, sent as a last gasp to defeat an overwhelmingly popular initiative, and even sound Teamster beatings would have been in order. I heard one tremulous voiced screaming bug-shit insane woman at 3 different rallies. Instead, crazily, Obama tried to engage and convince them, as if their brand of extremist fringe right-wing hate and paranoia could be successfully reasoned with. He dignified their madness and reduced his standing in even talking to these people. Enemies of America should be defeated, not coddled. The right-wing disruption campaign should have been dealt with by massive hundred thousand person pro-health care rallies in major cities to intimidate the lying fear-mongerers and the Congressional whores, and show the broad support for affordable health care.

Obama also needs to clean house at the Secret Service- still apparently Bush’s Praetorian Guard- that gun-toting “Water the Tree of Liberty (with the blood of tyrants)” NH whacko should be doing 2-5 in Leavenworth for threatening the President, not explaining his strategy on CNN and MSNBC. A local guy trying to reach Obama’s Chicago home last fall who just had a gun in his car was sent up for 5 years. In a Phoenix Obama rally, some lunatic brought an assault rifle, and the cop assigned to monitor him, said police also "wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him". Gee, how about preventive detention? While police are protecting a possible diversion, another assassin could get through.

The dollar is teetering with deficits perhaps reaching $2.5-4 trillion this next year, depending on the level of reimbursement of the $8-9 trillion of unknown Fed guarantees), and a run on the dollar would cause another devastating worldwide crisis. Despite the puffery and hypocrisy of right-wing concerns about deficits (which all their actions would increase), they are not wrong.

This bill is better than what we have (a half a loaf is better than nothing), but is so corrupted, so inadequate, so stupid that maybe it should be defeated. 60 Reps have threatened to reject any plan without a public option. It vastly enriches and enshrines the unlimited power of the corporate parasites that have jacked health prices up to the moon, and that power will then never be broken. With the obscene unlimited secret Wall St bail-outs to the crooked speculators and with this health care “reform”, the US Government has decided it works for the corporations more than the people, and that we all are dispensable subsidiaries of a sort. Teddy Roosevelt reestablished government control over rampaging monopolies- Obama has acknowledged their dominance over government. “How about the Insurance Companies?” bleated some shill at a town hall. How about the people? If this happens with a big Democratic majority and President… when we ever fix it and reduce the unlimited power of the banking, insurance, and medical trusts?


Michael Hammerschlag ( toured Europe + Africa for a year after a year in Moscow, and is now based in Kiev. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Honolulu Advertiser, Capital Times, Media Channel, Scoop; and Moscow News, Tribune, Guardian, and Times.

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