Promoted to Headline (H3) on 12/23/09:For OpEdNews: Kevin Gosztola - Writer
Photo from True/Slant
Corporate Democrats and the Obama Administration stand ready to deliver a gift to Americans on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies and private insurance industry in America: health reform.
Cloaked in the spirit of the holiday season, Americans will let politicians shove this right under their Christmas tree somewhere between little Timmy's Zhu Zhu Pets and daddy's new GPS navigator, which many Americans probably managed to barely squeeze onto their Visa Mastercard.
In the final moments before passage, Americans will whine about how Republicans are Scrooges and do not understand the meaning of Christmas and they should pass this bill for the poor instead of always giving to the rich. And, some Americans will sympathize with Democrats who have to be in the Senate on Christmas Eve and cannot be with their families because Republicans continue to obstruct passage of health reform.
See the words recently spoken by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) as he read his own version of the famous Christmas poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
"Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Senate/ the right held up our health care bill no matter what was in it/The people had voted, had mandated reform/ 'We'll clog up the senate,' they cried with a grin, and in the midterm elections, we'll get voted in""
Democrats hope Americans will focus on those in Congress like Sen. Kit Bond and Sen. Chuck Grassley who should be visited by three ghosts before this holiday season is over. They have setup this final vote with the hope that Americans will forget the part about how this Senate bill doesn't have a Medicare buy-in, doesn't have a public option, doesn't support a woman's right to choose an abortion or have full access to all forms of reproductive health care, etc.
They hope deals Big Pharma cut with the Obama Administration to make sure Congress didn't attempt to use government leverage to lower the prices of drugs or support a measure to allow the importation of generic drugs from countries outside the U.S. won't be thought of and the fact that a Medicare for All single-payer health care plan was effectively kept off the table and out of the discussion all year long to the detriment of the American people and for the benefit of health insurance and drug companies in America won't be a problem for a majority of Americans at all.
And, it looks like Obama and Democrats will succeed in passing this without any threats of civil unrest or resistance to how it empowers corporate and special interests getting in the way.
Which means, as Americans sip eggnog, few will grasp the reality that they are going to be forced to buy "poor-quality insurance they can't afford to use," which means that they may pay around "$11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above" their already expensive premiums.
While baking those holiday cookies with loved ones, few will think about the insurance plan they have right now through their employer and how this bill will be paid for by taxes on this plan so that means their employer will inevitably cut back on benefits and increase co-pays. They won't think to wonder why they must start to pay taxes on this bill now if they aren't going to see benefits from the bill and an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions until 2014.
Sitting down to eat the Christmas feast, family and friends may exchange passing thoughts about Obama and healthcare or Obamacare (depending on one's political stripe) but few will discuss the reality that health reform will force them to pay up to 8% of their income to private insurance corporations whether they want to or not and if they refuse they will have to pay penalties of up to 2% of their annual income to the IRS.
Opening gifts, few will think they must return that which they got such a great deal on from Wal-Mart or Best Buy when they bought it on Black Friday. Unless they have had a health care experience of horror recently, they won't hesitate and think of how premiums for a family will rise an average $1,000/yr, which means in 10 years health care will cost $10,000 more annually than it does right now. 
Those in power have setup conversation on the bill so that people making the perfect the enemy of the good, who cannot realize this opportunity for incremental reform is historic and without victory we will never get another chance to pass health reform in the next few decades at all, are utterly disdained and dismissed as fringe people.
Realities of the political terrain effectively do not matter. Clear, incisive, cerebral analysis like the following excerpt from a recent piece of writing on health care just doesn't mean a damn thing at all:
...In the intelligence and surveillance realms, for instance, the line between government agencies and private corporations barely exists. Military policy is carried out almost as much by private contractors as by our state's armed forces.Corporate executives and lobbyists can shuffle between the public and private sectors so seamlessly because the divisions have been so eroded. Our laws are written not by elected representatives but, literally, by the largest and richest corporations. At the level of the most concentrated power, large corporate interests and government actions are basically inseparable.
The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry -- regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies). In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry -- tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations -- and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model. It's undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can't get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well). If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor. But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign"
That alone should be enough to convince one that this has been a political farce from the beginning and as a people we have given too much room to our political leaders to wheel and deal and lie and scheme and triangulate and showboat and pledge to fix reform but ultimately fail to have the moral fortitude to do anything transformative that will benefit the next generation of Americans and other generations to follow.
Somewhere on Christmas Eve, families will talk briefly of the victory and how they got the gift of health reform finally. But, this gift isn't anything one should be excited to unwrap on Christmas. It's not something anyone should look forward to even if they are not bothered by the fact that they really cannot benefit from this gift until four or five Christmases from now.
This is a Christmas gift to the insurance companies, not the people. And, it's a gift that will keep on giving as it will ensure the revolving door for lobbying Congress continues to spin since they will be able to use money from the health care bill to further prevents Congress from removing the burdens of health care from the backs of the working poor, lower, and middle classes of America.
So, from the plutonomy to Americans all across this nation, merry Christmas! And a happy New Year!
*For more on the con job---the health insurance enrichment bill---
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