I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Why can’t the Dems get their act together on health care reform?
That won laughs in the 1930s, but with the country suffering today from a health care system that serves citizens badly at astronomical cost, it’s not so funny.
And it is disunited Democrats who prevent reform.
That Republicans defend the status quo is no surprise; it rains profits on GOP sponsors — insurers, makers of drugs and medical equipment and for-profit hospitals. But Democrats once responded effectively to the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle-class and the poor.
So why can’t the Donkeys pass real health care reform?
As conservative Ross Douthat opined in the New York Times August 23, they know the issue’s intricacies. “And for all the complexity involved, it’s arguably easier to tackle than other liberal priorities.”
Douthat concludes that the Democratic Party’s “liberal leaders are lousy tacticians, its centrist deal-makers are deal-makers first, poll watchers second and loyal Democrats a distant third.”
True, but superficial. The party long ago lost its reason for being.
New Deal and Great Society Democrats believed government should promote the common good, improving living conditions and opening up opportunity for most Americans.
But when a likeable General Electric pitchman, Ronald Reagan entered, preaching, “Government is the problem,” many Americans, including Democrats, bought the snake oil.
Bill Clinton, for example, was inspired by this laissez-faire fiction to promote “free trade” deals that moved jobs overseas, undermined wages at home and feathered corporate nests. And he collaborated with the GOP to deregulate business and finance.
You know how well that turned out.
By pure coincidence, corporate America then opened its overflowing treasure chest to Clinton’s party. Today, Democrats on corporate payrolls keep the party’s liberal reformers from changing our dysfunctional health system fundamentally.
The House’s 50-odd “Blue Dogs” represent rural districts, mostly. Like Republicans, they esteem fiscal discipline for others.
Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Democrat, was a Blue Dog until he switched parties, shepherded the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D) through the House and promptly resigned to become CEO of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of America (PhRMA), reportedly making $2 million a year.
Part D fattened subsidies to HMOs, showered PhRMA with a windfall in the billions and — for lack of financing — swelled the deficit.
New Mexico Republicans Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici enthusiastically supported this non-demonstration of fiscal discipline.
But back to the Blue Dogs — their deeply principled opposition to real health care reform may have something to do with a million dollars worth of gifts garnered from lobbyists for health care, energy and financial services in the first six months of this year. (The Center for Public Integrity has details.)
The Blue Dogs’ counterparts in the Senate include Democrats Max Baucus of Montana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, both opponents of the public option and both recipients of millions of dollars from health and insurance lobbyists. Also, five former Baucus aides now work for PhRMA, AHIP (America’s Top Health Insurance Plans), Amgen and GE Health Care.
So the Blue Dogs and their senatorial allies are Democrats in name only. Actually, they’re allied with the GOP in the American Corporate Party.
“Be thankful,” Will Rogers also said, “we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”
Today, of course, corporate America underwrites government. Via its bipartisan Corporate Party, health insurers and pill producers will buy a “reform” that relieves political pressure but preserves (enhances?) its power. In the deal, Big Medicine will abandon a few slimy commercial practices in return for a huge, new market.
And exit, laughing.