Ahhh, the power of the Democrats! To all of you who said that Dems couldn’t get anything done, to all of you that said Congressional Democrats couldn’t find the President’s desk with a map, a flashlight, and guided tour from Desirée Rogers, to all of you that said this White House did not know how to play political hardball, I say: Behold!
Just look what has happened in the last fortnight (or so): the president actually put his health plan on paper, the Senate leadership and the White House decided that budget reconciliation wasn’t such a bad idea after all, Democrats in both houses of Congress came together on a sidecar strategy, leadership has started whipping votes like there’s no tomorrow, President Obama has taken his show on the road in campaign-style events to sell his reform plan, and he, the president himself, is having one-on-one meetings with Democratic members (yes, that’s Democratic, not Republican) of the House to arm twist and horse trade. And, the great grassroots organizing forces of the left—from OFA to SEIU, from DFA to HCAN, from MoveOn to what the serious folks call “the liberal blogosphere” (not the marginal blogs, of course [smile])—have been mobilized in an all-out, no-holds-barred, damn-near scorched earth effort to move every last member of the House off the dime and on board the health care highway.
Hell, the White House is giving away NASA bases, and the SEIU is threatening primary challenges to anyone that votes against the “Senate-plus” health care overhaul—even if that means running kamikaze, third-party candidates. All to counteract the horrible, obstructionist, downright evil efforts of notorious Public Enemy Number One. . .
But, whatever—there are mountains to be moved here!
And look what they are moving mountains for.
It is strikingly educational to note that none of this was done last spring for single-payer. None of this was done last summer for a bill with a robust public option. None of this was done last fall for drug re-importation. None of this was done to stop the health care bill from containing the greatest threat to reproductive rights in a generation. Some yelled, some organized, some worked hard—a group here, a blog there (or vice versa)—but there was no massive, coordinated push, no hard sell, no “win one for the gipper,” and no demonizing of those who were then the obstacles to real, progressive change.
But, today—today everything is different. The White House has the bill it really always wanted. They have their deals with PhRMA, AHIP, and the Hospitals more-or-less unbroken (despite some of their protest-too-much carping); they have their real goal in sight.
The White House has their individual mandate—a law that will require those without coverage to buy from private health insurers under pain of penalty enforced through the IRS—they have their restrictions on drug re-importation and direct drug price negotiation still intact, and they have kept their word on the handshake deal that they made last spring with the medical industrial complex: no public option.
They have the Big Insurance Bailout and Medical Industries Profit Protection Act of 2010. If BIBMIPPA doesn’t sound good to you, it shouldn’t. This bill will not provide universal coverage, it will not provide universal access, it will not significantly bend the cost curve, it will not prevent draconian escalations in premiums or out-of-pocket expenses, and, upon signing into law, it will not do anything at all for the large majority of the 48 million uninsured for another four years.
What it will do is mandate an expansion of the customer pool for private insurance. What it will do is funnel taxpayer dollars into the coffers of the lobbying arms AHIP, PhRMA, and the various private hospital associations. What it will do is enrich and entrench the current powers-that-be at the expense of middleclass and poorer working Americans.
What it will do is make future efforts at reform much, much harder.
And for this, the Democrats have practically risen from the grave—and with the force of an army of hungry zombies, they will not stop until they have converted the whole village. And, today, it looks pretty much like they will.
So, behold: Democrats can get things done. When everyone comes together and whips in one direction they can take on any foe—FOX News, John McCain. . . even Dennis Kucinich. But is this really the battle Democrats should be fighting—is this the battle we should be proud of?
No, fair cousin. Today is not St. Crispin’s Day. (Or, at least, Obama is no Henry V.) Those that the White House and its legions are fighting for are the ones covetous of gold, Rahm doth care who feeds his cost, and too many in this new vanguard do covet honor. Rather, after a year of claiming to be on the side of real health care reform, it is those who have joined this final push for the Obama plan that should think themselves accursed and hold their manhoods cheap.
And, a note, too, to those that plan on complaining about and campaigning against Republican obstructionism—this week’s events render that strategy weaker by a furlong than that of the French at Agincourt. Even without the mythical army of 60 senators—or bipartisan support—the Democrats can get things done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
That this will was to serve corporate interests, over and at the expense of the public good, is as sad as it is signature. And, I believe, it will be noticed and remembered by voters, maybe not from this day till the ending of the world, but certainly through November, and likely long past. Behold, the power of Democrats—and for what and whom they would wield it.