A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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It appears that President Obama will soon achieve his health care triumph – and an unmitigated disaster for the public. “Both Clinton and Obama planned to shanghai the vast bulk of the public as captive consumers of the insurance cartel,” but only Obama could have pulled it off. He is bringing into existence a privatized health care system that will be “nearly impossible to dismantle absent a general political upheaval in the United States.”
Obama Hustles the Public for Greedy Private Insurers
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The insurance industry will emerge vastly more powerful, buttressed by newly-created public-private structures.”
How was it possible, that at the height of the Great Recession, one of the nation’s most despised industries succeeded in getting the United States Congress to force nearly every American citizen to purchase its shoddy and crooked products on pain of penalty of law. The Insurance Industry Bonanza of 2009 could not have happened had Barack Obama not been elected president. It is inconceivable that a President John McCain could have pulled off such a coup, even if he wanted to – which he did not. McCain favored the usual Republican fare: tax credits. But nobody would be forced to sign up with the insurance companies.
No, that was Hillary Clinton’s idea and, as with most issues, she was soon joined by her political twin, Barack Obama. In hindsight, we now see that real health care reform was doomed as soon as the Democratic presidential race narrowed to two candidates. Both Clinton and Obama planned to shanghai the vast bulk of the public as captive consumers of the insurance cartel. But only Obama could have pulled off a miracle for the insurers, mesmerizing the masses into believing he was opposed to corporate dominance of health care even as, one after the other, he struck deals with the drug, hospital and insurance barons – a pact made in Hell that only a popular, sitting Democratic president could have imposed on his congressional party.
The final vote has not been bought or sold but the fix has been in ever since Obama set foot in the White House and immediately went about marginalizing single payer supporters. As Business Week magazine titled its cover story back on August 6, “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.”
The 57 congresspersons that vowed to vote against any health care bill that does not include a “robust” public option, will shrivel to a few handfuls of men and women when the crunch comes – a defeat made more ignominious and unnecessary when it is considered that single payer health care is still supported by two-thirds of the public. However, with the health corporations’ guy in the White House, the country faces years of the “two percent solution” whereby only about 6 million people, or 2 percent of the population under age 65, will belong to the puny, overpriced public plan.
“The Insurance Industry Bonanza of 2009 could not have happened had Barack Obama not been elected president.”
This should have been the year for single payer, or something close enough to it that the real deal might be achieved in another year or two. Some optimistic folks still think real health care reform can be resurrected sometime soon to replace Obama’s disastrous legislation. But that would be extremely difficult. Obama is establishing a private system backed by the federal government that will envelop virtually every citizen. The insurance industry will emerge vastly more powerful, buttressed by newly-created public-private structures nearly impossible to dismantle absent a general political upheaval in the United States.
The Obama bill is not the lesser of evils. It is not a matter of allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. The establishment of a privatized state-backed monopoly on health care is an unmitigated evil that could require a vast movement many years of struggle to reverse.
What, then, has Obama has wrought? He has delivered to the bankers every available bit of the nation's wealth and its full faith and credit. And to the insurance industry he has entrusted the lives of 98 percent of our citizens. All this, in less than a year. Is he not a great man?
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, to to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].