Obama on Health Care

September 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I just watched Obama’s speech on health care (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1YNF9I25yU) and it was somewhat disappointing. He has, vaguely, committed to a public option, but only as an option for people who don’t have health care from public sources, and anticipates that it wont cover many people at all. I’m not sure how that qualifies as a “public option” if its only an option for people who don’t have health care and can’t afford to buy it individually (don’t we already have that with medicaid)? Obama also made it clear that that any public option wouldn’t be tax funded and would need to generate its own revenue by charging its members, competing with private insurance (and, how is that different than the Republican’s ‘co-op’ counter-proposal?)

The funniest line was when Obama said “there are those on the left – who believe the only way to fix the system is through a single payer system like Canada’s,”… where we would restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide insurance for everyone, and a member of congress interrupted ‘woohoo’ and he had to talk through the applause so as to not permit it to be an official ‘applause line.’

Obama reassured the right that “there are also those who claim our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants; this too is false! The reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are hear illegally”, which drew an outburst from the audience. When I watched it, I had hoped that it was heckling from progressives appalled by the inhumanity of denying undocumented immigrants health care, but apparently it was an ultra-rightwing republican member of congress shouting ‘you lie.’  Obama followed up with “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” – apparently unwanted pregnancy is not a health care issue if the minority party, the rightwing opposition, uses it in their propaganda.

When are the Democrats going to get disillusioned with Obama?  He has more political capital than God and he’s squandered it pandering to the insurance companies, the republicans, and the pharmaceutical industry.  And this is his stance on health care, the supposedly central piece of his political agenda that loyal democrats routinely point to in order to excuse the fact that he has generally continued Bush regime policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, torture, Guantanamo bay, use of mercenary troops without any legal restraint, state terrorism against Pakistan, a presidency that recognizes no legal restraints, and a tax funded gift to the super-rich and their banks that even Bush didn’t think to attempt (see David Swanson’s Bush’s Third Term at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/22527 ).  The left (and, for that matter, left of center which Obama surely cannot claim to be a part of) need to organize against Obama’s conservatism; otherwise the only political pressure he’ll notice and respond to will be that coming from the loony rightwing teabaggers.

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