[Marxism] Obama’s solution is to pay the enemy

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Sep 10 06:22:51 MDT 2009

Allison Kilkenny

Obama’s solution is to pay the enemy

During his speech before a joint session of Congress, President Obama 
called for the creation of insurance exchanges, a system designed to 
allow consumers to see varying prices and programs so they can 
comparison shop. Obama only mentioned the P-word once, and even then the 
public option name drop was immediately followed by the caveats “We 
should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal,” 
and the public option is only a “means to an end.” Read: It’s a nice 
idea, but drop it.

Elsewhere, Obama recycled the usual reasons for why single-payer 
healthcare, the Progressives’ other favored solution, just isn’t 
possible right now (at the mere mention of single-payer sporadic cheers 
broke out in the audience.) “I believe it makes more sense to build on 
what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely 
new system from scratch,” said the president. This dismisses Marcia 
Angell’s idea of a gradual expansion of Medicare, a slow transition that 
wouldn’t have violently jolted our beloved system of privatized healthcare.

But nevermind. Back to the insurance exchange idea. Obama means citizens 
will be required by law to purchase their coverage from private 
insurers. Similarly, Max Baucus’s disastrous recent proposal calls for 
mandates that will literally force individuals and families to purchase 
insurance from the enemy — and one of the great culprits of the entire 
reform debate — Big Insurers. Without a serious public option (and not 
the “I’m humoring them, have they shut up yet?” approach Obama seems to 
be suggesting,) the insurance industry has a captive market, the 
American people, who will be held hostage in a for-profit health 
insurance scheme.

Between Obama’s peddling of exchanges and Baucus’s mandate pimping, 
Americans are faced with the nightmarish bastard of corporate whoring 
and endless concessions: no public option, possible mandates, and 
healthcare exchanges. Seriously, if you had asked me at the start of 
this process what my worst case scenario would be — short of a meteor 
slamming into the Earth — this is it.

Exchanges are like a watered down version of the original watered down 
compromise of co-ops. And let’s remember that the public option was 
supposedly a compromise derived from Progressive’s true desire, 
universal healthcare.

Under Obama’s proposal, insurers may not be able to deny double 
mastectomy procedures anymore, but without a public option, breast 
cancer victims will continue to pay skyrocketing premiums, which is also 
no treat when cancer is ravaging one’s body. Once again, Americans are 
being asked to let the free market solve all their problems, but without 
some heavy regulation, it’s unclear how an insurance exchange will 
successfully control costs.

So going into final negotiations for healthcare reform, the Progressives 
are being asked to enthusiastically support a watered down version 
(exchanges) of a watered down version (co-ops) of a watered down version 
(public option) with a little unlubricated sodomy on the side 
(mandates.) By the way, the second Progressives act less than 
hysterically positive about Obama’s speech, we’ll be called everything 
from stupid idealists to naive, unserious, political amateurs.

Obama said all the right things about death panels being a lie, and 
private insurers doing very bad things, but then he sacrificed his 
credibility by calling the public option a “means to an end.” What end? 
I kind of thought insuring every American was the “end,” and the only 
way to do that is with the public option. If private insurers are 
permitted to exploit sick people, then whatever “public option” 
ultimately emerges in the healthcare bill will be too small and 
superficial to help the majority of uninsured and underinsured Americans.

Laughter broke out when Obama conceded than many details still need to 
be ironed out. Yeah, a biggie will be how these insurance exchanges will 
control costs and seriously compete with private insurers. Otherwise, 
Congress is working toward legally requiring citizens to purchase 
healthcare on the private market with all its skyrocketing costs and 
shady practices.

More information about the Marxism mailing list