Sunday, September 13, 2009

Was there ever actually going to be a Public Option?

I'm starting to wonder.

With key Democrats like Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi taking massive contributions from the health insurance lobbyists; with President Obama likewise accepting such contributions and cutting a sweetheart deal with the pharmaceutical companies, it looks more and more like the original plan may have been to feint left, then cut back to the right the whole time.

Look what corporate America has so far achieved:

Big Pharma, for a bribe of only $150 million, has been indemnified against losses in excess of $80 billion over the next decade.

Big Insurance, in exchange for having to actually treat some of its current customers, is seeing the purchase of its product made mandatory by the government, leading to the addition of tens of millions of new customers and rules that allow it to spread risk and cost across greater [possibly even inter-state] populations.

Big Law has managed to keep tort reform completely off the table, despite President Obama's carefully parsed non-promise in his speech last week.

Medicare is set to take tens of billions in cuts that rival what the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to do in the 1990s.

And nobody who currently lacks health insurance will benefit from any of these changes until 2014, even though the taxes to pay for them kick in within the next two years.

When I look at the particulars of the money at the larger scales, one fact emerges:

President Obama had far more interest in having a bill to sign in order to protect his own political future than he ever did in risking serious capital to champion the agenda that his followers desired.

That's primarily because David Axelrod knows that it was independents, not Democrats, who elected him President.

I could turn out to be wrong, but it's looking more and more to be the case.

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