Dave Johnson, writing at OpenLeft:
Back in July I wrote here, in Democrats Had Better Find Hiding Places
I said it the other day, and I feel the need to repeat it: the public does not yet understand that the government is about to order people to buy health insurance, with their own money. Yes, the government is about to order people to cough up hundreds of dollars a month each.
When the Republicans start using their toxic message-machine magic
on this, and the public starts to understand that they are being
ordered by the government to cough up a huge amount of money every
month, Democrats had better have good hiding places, because things are
going to get really bad out there.
This is the kind of policy that results when "centrist"
Democrats give in to to the demands of Republicans and big corporations
and the top 1% of the wealthy. Instead of just taxing the wealthy and
corporations at reasonable rates and using the money to provide We, the
People with health care -- thereby vastly improving the economy for ...
the wealthy and big corporations -- they instead come up with a scheme
to order regular people to pay for health insurance because they don't
already have it because they can't afford it.
Now it is December and the current health care reform bill orders
everyone to buy very expensive insurance from the big corporations,
with no public option and no Medicare buy-in. Even if you are in the
income range where you receive subsidies you have to pay "only" 9 or
10% of your income, at a time when people are runnng up credit cards
just to get by as it is. That is with the subsidies. Above that level you pay more.
The public hasn't really tuned into this yet, but if this passes
and Republicans start working their toxic magic (with of course little
or no organized effort by Dems to counter their lies and sell it to the
public) I expect this will be as unppular as Bush's bailout of the big
financial firms, which the Republicans have largely engineered the
public into thinking was Obama's, just as they did with the Bush deficits.
So I think that when all these factors come into play for the
next election, passing this will turn out to be suicide for the
Democrats who hold office. They don't see that because at this point
are in a mindset that the public wants them to just get it over with
and pass anything.
But this is bad beyond just the next election.
is the larger problem: the public is going to judge US - progressives,
liberals, Democrats, etc. - based on what these clucks pass.
This health "reform" bill plays right into decades of
conservative/corporate propaganda about liberals and their policies -
and government in general. Republicans will sell it as "big government
ordering you around and reaching into your pocket" and the corporate
media will echo that until everyone sees it that way. There won't be a
word explaining that this money actually goes to big corporations, it
will be about everyone losing the insurance they have and how people
will soon be paying big money to a "government insurance bureaucracy."
(Are we going to counter this by saying, "well, no, actually it goes
to big corporations not government"?)
And, frankly, why should the public ever again listen to
anyone left of John McCain after this, if this is what happens when
Democrats get power? It is just wrong to use that power to order
everyone to shell out a huge amount of money - while Wall Street hands
out billions of taxpayer dollars as bonuses. They will be portrayed as
confirming what the right has been saying about "liberals" they use the
power of the state to order people to follow elitist schemes - which is
exactly what this is, a scheme where elite people with power decide
what is good for the rest of us - mandates are important because you
can't cover pre-existing without them, etc. THIS is where a President
is supposed to be a leader come in and insist on broader guidelines
with a veto threat.
What I am most afraid of is what will happen when Republicans
start making up shit about what passed, while people feel no immediate
benefit. It doesn't take effect right away so it will just be this
looming, terrifying, expensive "big government" program coming at
people in a few years that is going to cost everyone a lot of money
and ruin our health care system. Without sufficient immediate benefits
that people feel, on the scale of free insurance for everyone, the
Republicans will have lots of time to just make up shit about what is
coming if they don't vote for Republicans so they can repeal it.
Unless you're pretty sure that Repubilcans wouldn't do that,
wouldn't just make shit up to scare people. If you're like Senate
Democrats who seem to think that, don't worry about this.
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Here is what I am talking about. Last night I was
driving and heard on the radio that there will be a 15-year jail term
if you don't buy this government insurance. The announcer also said
the bill bans things like Snickers bars, and that there is funding in
the bill for government to come in and check your house for unhealthy
food, as the liberals define it.
That is what I heard on the radio last night. This is what's out there now -- just the beginning of the 2010 election mantra.
And what are we going to do, explain that it isn't a 15-year jail term, only a big fine?
The bigger picture - the sellout.
Isn't this mandate to buy insurance really just another form of
privatization of a pubilc service? In this case it is maintaining a
privatization-by-refusing-to-provide. Most other countries provide
health care as a right - a core function of government. But here
privateers have seized it for themselves for profit. So to maintain
this, to keep taxes low for the rich and keep the profits privatized we
are ordered to buy it from companies instead of having it provided as a
government service. This is the battle between democracy and
If this bill is passed and signed (progressives can
filibuster, too) it means that Democrats as a party have abdicated
their role as defenders of democracy against the forces of organized
Wrap it up
I hate to say this but money flowing out of big corporations has outmaneuvered the public good once again. If we don't
pass a health care bill the Democrats have done little to show the
public the value of showing up and electing Democrats: there is very
high unemployment, no one has been held accountable for the crimes and
corruption of the Bush years and Wall Street got and kept their bonuses
after crashing the economy - $140 billion just this year. But if we do pass this, the way it is, it's even worse. And the joke is that this fix we're in is being engineered by a bunch of lobbyists!
So I'm with Chris,
I don't intend to help this bill pass. If
progressives get backstabbed by Lieberman and then ordered to cave at
the finish line, then as far as I am concerned the White House has made
its own bed with this. They can try and pass the bill, but they are
going to have to do it on their own. I'm not helping. In fact, I kind
of just want to hang out in the tall grass for a while and plot my
But I am also trying to sound a warning, to wake
up Democratic leadership and try to head off this disaster. Pass a
good bill, not an insurance lobbyist's dream.
Tell me again, why was "Medicare-For-All" off the table? All of
this complicated, 2000-page jumble of backroom deals and mandates and
confusing formulas is to avoid just giving the people what they want -
health care. And the reason it was off the table was to avoid being
DaveJohnson (http://seeingtheforest.com) is a frequent public speaker and talk-radio guest and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community. He does a regular weekly segment on the popular Fairness Doctrine radio show. A featured contributor at Huffington Post, his work also appears at many other sites including Open Left, AlterNet, MyDD and Common Dreams.