Friday, February 26, 2010

Mulcting the public on health care

"The fact that major corporations don't have to pay their own way, and instead are able to enlist legislators to mulct common citizens -- and businesses with more modest Washington connections -- deforms the entire political system."
-- Doug Bandow, "The Bipartisan Scandal of U.S. Corporate Welfare"
WSWS reporting on yesterday's 'bipartisan health care summit" at the White House:At Thursday’s meeting, the president and well-heeled Congressional attendees were at pains to conceal their disinterest in the real plight of the uninsured, the underinsured, the jobless, the poor—those ravaged by the effects of the recessionary crisis. Several Democrats read letters they had received from constituents who had been dumped by their insurer, or who could no longer afford coverage because their premiums had been hiked to obscene levels. These remarks were interspersed with joking exchanges about bipartisanship between the president and his Republican rivals, and cynical posturing by Democrats about the urgent necessity for enacting legislation.

The massive profits of the giant insurers and pharmaceuticals were hardly given mention. Rather, Obama emphasized his commitment to defend the capitalist, for-profit insurance market and sought to rebuff any notion to the contrary. “The exchange? That’s a market-based approach, not a government-run approach,” he stated. He boasted that his plan did not include an employer mandate to provide insurance coverage for workers, and that the consumer tax credits to subsidize insurance “were consistent with a market-based approach.”

Obama went out of his way to stress that his main priorities were controlling government spending and reducing the deficit, aims that can only be achieved by drastic reductions and rationing of care, particularly in the government-run Medicare program for the elderly and the disabled. Republicans seized on the opportunity to pose as defenders of the elderly, referring numerous times to the “half-trillion-dollar cuts” to Medicare, an issue that was avoided by the Democratic speakers.

The plan presented Monday by Obama is in fact devoid of even the fig leafs of reform contained in earlier versions of the legislation. There is no government-run public option. Even the “exchange” where people would be able to purchase insurance has been watered down to markets run individually by the states.

People would be mandated to purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

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