Who's Blocking Health Care Reform Now? Blue Dogs? Senate Dems? House Progressives? Or the White House Itself?

the summer of 2008, Democrats had stopped pretending there was much
difference between them and Republicans on foreign policy. Their
candidates were younger and smarter, but they weren't going to stop the
wars or bring more than a few of the troops home anytime soon or lift
the Cuban blockade. Forget about that stuff, leading Democrats said.
Where the Party of Change would deliver for sure, they told voters,
would be health care. Voters listened, and delivered Democrats the
White House, a crushing majority in the House and a filibuster-proof

president's timetable called for passage of a health care bill in the
summer of 2009, but it didn't happen. The White House blames almost
everybody --- blue dog Democrats, a handful of right wing Democratic
senators, Republican birthers and teapartyers, even the large number of
Democrats who want single payer health care or its shadowy stand-in,
the public option. But the games are wearing thin. Democrats are
running out of time, room and excuses.

who can add knows Republicans are not blocking universal health care.
The performances of Republican teabaggers at a few town halls
notwithstanding, there are just not enough Republicans in the House and
Senate to block anything. The president and his party can roll over
Republican opposition any time they want to.

dog Democrats aren't to blame for blocking the White House health care
bills either. The political careers of many House blue dogs are the
creation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who as head of the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dispensed them bags of
corporate cash to win primary elections against left leaning Democrats.
The interests that owned Rahm, and still do, own his successor at DCCC,
so the blue dogs are White House puppies it can rein it any time it

"The fact that Lyndon Johnson fired up Medicare, enrolling and providing care to millions of seniors in only eleven months back in 1965-66 when small computers were the size of cargo vans should be a immeasurably potent pro-reform argument..."

Baucus and a handful of right wing senators are not to blame either.
Some are Republicans, who simply don't matter. They don't have the
votes. And the Senate Democrats with their hands on the bill are all
choices of the White House, and all dependent on the good will of that
same White House for a percentage of their corporate campaign
contributions. Senate Democrats are keenly aware that a sitting
president of their own party has literally hundreds of ways to exert
pressure on any single legislator. None of them is crossing the White
House either.

only obstacle to passage of the president's health care --- or health
insurance legislation is the White House itself. Barack Obama knows
better than any of us the difference between what he promised and what
is about to be delivered. The undeniable difference is dawning on much
of the public too, and is reflected in sagging poll numbers for
Democrats and the president. The dozens of Democrats who have declared
they will vote against any health care --- or health insurance --- bill
that does not contain what they call a "public option," are only trying
to insulate themselves and protect President Obama from the worst
consequences of his own treachery in selling out the vision of
universal health care to big pharma and the insurance companies. They
aren't blocking the president's bill. They're trying to ensure that
there is something in the bill they can defend to the outraged public
who elected them to pass health care reform.

the beginning the president hamstrung his own grassroots supporters. He
made much of his vaunted email and phone list of 13 million volunteers
useless by coming down hard against Medicare For All and any forms of
single payer, which were among the prime motivations for their energy
and devotion. So the people whose boundless enthusiasm swept Obama into
the White House were not available to pack many of the town meetings or
pressure the reluctant. Some Democrats, like Dick Durbin of Illinois
canceled their public meetings for fear of left leaning hostile, and
likely pro-single payer crowds which even corporate media would find it
hard to ignore.

away from single payer and all its eminently rational supporting
arguments deprived corporate funded Democrats of most of the best
answers to Republican charges that real reform was "socialized
medicine" that would result in "rationed care" at enormously increased
cost. It robbed President Obama and Democrats of the most potent
leadoff arguments against the present untenable system --- that health
insurance companies who produce no care at all account for one third of
every health care dollar in the US, and that two thirds of all family
bankruptcies are from unpayable medical bills. Democrats now can't make
that argument because the Obama bill is a taxpayer-funded bailout for
those same vampire insurance companies.

made Democrats unable to present a health care reform package as a job
creating economic stimulus more real than anything the president has
yet proposed. Adopting a single payer system, as the National Nurses
Organization pointed out at the beginning of the year, would create 3.3
million new jobs. Subtracting out the 550,000 in the insurance industry
who would have to find other livelihoods, a single payer health care
plan would create a net surplus of 2.6 million new jobs, as many as the
economy lost in all of 2007, and provide tens of billions in taxes that
support the budgets of local governments. So with millions unemployed
and underemployed Democrats cannot argue that their health care bill
will put Americans back to work, or help fund local and state

in the House, many of whom supported single payer when Bush was
president, have switched to a shadowy something they call the public
option. But although many of them know by now that the White House has
gutted the public option from an original 120 million strong, large
enough to actually force health care prices downward, to a mere 10
million, not nearly enough to compete with private insurance,
congressional democrats continue to cling to this scrap of a fig leaf.
It's not single payer, it's not even universal health care of any kind,
they admit, but it's a big first step. They are contradicted by Obama's
own HHS Secretary who declares that absolutely nothing in the public
option or in the president's health insurance reform package will ever,
under any circumstances lead to single payer.

Maryland's Rep. Donna Edwards could be seen on C-SPAN last weekend
before a substantially pro-single payer crowd in her own district,
claiming that although she preferred single payer, the public option
would be the best they could get through the Congress this year. It
was, "a uniquely American solution," she said, implicitly echoing the
right wing canard that HR 676, the Enhanced Medicare For All which she
professed to support a few breaths before, was somehow "un-American."

progressives like Donna Edwards can be blamed for blocking health care
reform, it's only because they are choosing to follow the White House
lead and settle for "health insurance reform" instead. The White House
itself, and our First Black President are the biggest political
obstacles to achieving health care for every American, along with the
corporate media which controls the public debate.

fact that Lyndon Johnson fired up Medicare, enrolling and providing
care to millions of seniors in only eleven months back in 1965-66 when
small computers were the size of cargo vans should be a immeasurably
potent pro-reform argument against those who argue against "socialized
medicine" or for a go-slow approach to health care reform. In face, the
barrier to delivering health care to additional millions has never been
technical. It's always been political. But this too is an argument the
White House and Congressional Democrats cannot throw against their
opponents. The Obama plan's health insurance exchanges won't begin
gearing up to cover the uninsured till 2013, three and a half years
away. Oh, well.

not Republicans, it's not blocking blue dogs, or die-hard progressives
who form the biggest political obstacle to enacting universal health
care this year. It's Democrats, following the lead of the chief Democrat in the White House. In less than a year, the Democrats have gone from the party of Change to the party of Excuses.

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