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Public Health Before Wall Street Wealth

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Posted on Oct 13, 2009
Geithner
AP / Gerald Herbert

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talks on his cell phone during President Barack Obama’s news conference Sept. 25 at the conclusion of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

By Robert Scheer

Wonderful. The 13 Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee get one faintly rational Republican to join them in a meaningless stab at health care reform and it throws the media into a titillated frenzy about what it all means. It means very little.

The main thrust of the proposal is to forcibly submit even more customers to the tender mercies of the insurance industry while doing nothing significant to cut costs. Insurers will now pretend that the burdens on them are onerous and will demand concessions to make this an even bigger boondoggle for the medical profiteers than George W. Bush’s prescription drug coverage initiative.

The insurers’ leverage with the few moderate Republicans and with conservative Democrats will prevent the merging of the Baucus bill with the more serious attempts at reform in other Senate and House proposals. While President Barack Obama was celebrating Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, for being “extraordinarily diligent” in working with the Democrats, she was already proclaiming the exit strategy she will use if the bill becomes worthwhile. “My vote today is my vote today,” Snowe said Tuesday. “It doesn’t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.” 

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The health care debate has become a convenient distraction, for both political parties, from the far more pressing issues surrounding the banking meltdown. As important as health insurance is as an issue, representing 16 percent of the economy, and with so many uninsured, no sane person can deny that the current system is a sorry mess that needs to be changed. But why now and not after a growth economy has returned?

The answer is that politicians from both parties just love the health care game because it allows them to assume reflexive but irrelevant postures in that tired old debate about “socialized medicine” versus “free-market choice” although it has nothing to do with either ideological fantasy. Consumers do not have meaningful choices as it is—many have no coverage and others are frozen into some company-sponsored plan—and it is insulting to the social democracies of Western Europe to suggest that anything comparable is even under consideration in the U.S. Congress.

The health care issue should never even have been brought up at a time when the economy is reeling and we are running such immense deficits to shore up the banks. Instead of fixing the economy by saving Americans’ homes and jobs, we are preoccupied with pie-in-the-sky rhetoric on a hot issue that should have been addressed in calmer times. It came up now because, despite all the hoary partisan posturing, it is a safer subject than the more pressing issue of what to do with Citigroup, AIG and General Motors, which the taxpayers happen to own but do not control. While Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plots in secret with the top bankers who got us into this mess, we are focused on the perennial circus of so-called health care reform. 

There is an odd disconnect between the furious public debate over health care reform, with its emphasis on the cost of an increased government role, and the nonexistent discussion about the far more expensive and largely secretive government program to bail out Wall Street. Why the agitation over the government spending $83 billion a year on health care when at least 20 times that amount has been thrown at the creators of the ongoing financial crisis without any serious public accountability? On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that employees of the financial industry that we taxpayers saved are slated to be paid a record $140 billion this year.

If you want to know who actually runs this country, just look at the phone logs, released by court order last week, revealing Geithner’s nearly constant calls to solicit the advice of the fat cats who caused the banking implosion. It’s the same as when he was chair of the Federal Reserve in New York, before Obama appointed him to his current job. Only back then, as he blithely ignored the impending financial meltdown, it was easier to have lunch with the bankers as well as to chat by phone. 

In an earlier Freedom of Information exposé, The New York Times reported in April: “An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions. His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records.”

Nothing has changed since then. Meanwhile, we all get in a tizzy about fake efforts at health reform as immense decisions are being made to ensure the health of financial institutions that should have been left to die.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By glider, October 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

Rodrigo Riadi and Dalmizio,

This Ron Paul point that less government is the answer only makes some sense in that our government is corrupt.  But how ignorant is it to think that the free market system will fix healthcare?  It is simply not the type of product that responds to free market forces.  Single payer is largely proven to be the best working system available.  The fact that it works well in other countries proves it is a great system.  On the contrary there is no successful model for unregulated free market healthinsurance/care.  Everyone else had some brains and abandoned it.  The solution is not to abandon government and toss us all to the wolves.  The solution is to get corporations out of our government.  At any rate neither of these options are going to happen as their is no mechanism to reverse the corporatocracy now.  We have been outsmarted and the screws will continue to tighten.

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By glider, October 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Rodrigo Riadi and Dalmizio,

This Ron Paul point that less government is the answer only makes some sense in that our government is corrupt.  But how ignorant is it to think that the free market system will fix healthcare?  It is simply not the type of product that responds to free market forces.  Single payer is largely proven to be the best working system available.  The fact that it works well in other countries proves it is a great system.  On the contrary there is no highly successful model for free market healthcare.  Everyone else had some brains and abandoned it.  The solution is not to abandon government and toss us all to the wolves.  The solution is to get corporations out of our government.  At any rate neither of these options are going to happen as their is no mechanism to reverse the corporatocracy.  We have been outsmarted.

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By Mark, October 14, 2009 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Montanawildhack:

Thanks for the chuckle. You rock.

Sometimes I think we live in Bizarro World, but then, on second thought, I think: That’s unfair to Bizarro World.

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By Xntrk, October 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

As I tried to write a post, a wrong button sent it somewhere unknown - If it shows up, please disregard.

Use Mozilla’s add-on, Ad Blocker. I cannot see the ad people are complaining about. OTOH several large media corporations have figured out a way around it. I sometimes go elsewhere to avoid all the blinking lights and revolving pinwheels.

Anyway, try it, it will improve your BP.

Health, Housing, Education? Hell, it all costs money, and that is ear-marked for the Banks, The Politicians, and the War Machine. Revolution and/or a REAL 3rd Party are the only solution - unless Global Warming solves the problem first.

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By Dalmazio, October 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

(...continued)

The solution is not *more* government, the solution is *less*. However, a key
ingredient in order to make this work is not just to squash any kind of public
healthcare plan—but to immediately repeal all legislation that makes it
impossible for smaller, leaner, competent, hungry players from entering the
market. The current debate is not really “socialized-medicine” vs. “free-market
medicine” but rather “socialized medicince” vs. “plutocratic medicine” and
neither is an acceptable option. We need to get back to *genuine* free-market
principles not this nonsense that is touted as “free-market” but is wholly other.

Kill the regulations and barriers to entry into the marketplace, and kill
government involvement, and you will disperse the big health and insurance
monopoly. People will finally have *real* choice.

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By Dalmazio, October 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE: “The health care debate has become a convenient distraction, for both
political parties, from the far more pressing issues surrounding the banking
meltdown. As important as health insurance is as an issue, representing 16
percent of the economy, and with so many uninsured, no sane person can deny
that the current system is a sorry mess that needs to be changed. But why now
and not after a growth economy has returned?”

This is a fair point. And perhaps there’s an element of giving the people “bread
and games” to keep them appeased and distracted, all the while Rome burns.
And yes, the bailout is a catastrophe, and heads in Washington really need to
roll. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore other excesses and injustices.
These are separate issues, and there is room for debate on both. But I agree
that greater focus should be on bailouts, and auditing the Federal Reserve than
on healthcare.

QUOTE: “The answer is that politicians from both parties just love the health
care game because it allows them to assume reflexive but irrelevant postures
in that tired old debate about “socialized medicine” versus “free-market
choice” although it has nothing to do with either ideological fantasy.”

The first part of this statement may be true, but that does not lessen the
importance of dealing with the healthcare issue as it is rapidly becoming an
unmanageable burden with the increasing baby-boomer generation becoming
senior citizens. If this is not dealt with quickly then we will have another
catastrophe of potentially equal magnitude to the bailout catastrophe. There is
no reason to completely ignore the healthcare debate.

Incidently, the healthcare debate has *everything* to do with “socialized
medicine” versus “free-market choice.” The problem is, there is currently *no*
free-market choice as the big health and insurance companies have a virtual
stranglehold on the marketplace. And so, the administration, seeing this
inequity is attepting to provide a “worthy” competitor to break this monopoly:
the government. While their intentions may be good (destroy the monopolistic
practices of the big health and insurance companies) their approach is wholly
inadequate and counter-productive, not to mention unconstitutional.

Just consider this one question: how did we arrive at this monopolistic situation
where healthcare costs are spiralling out of control with no competition in the
marketplace to bring prices back down to sane levels? Answer: government
regulation. It’s all the regulations, the required licenses, the certifications, the
legal fees, etc. etc. that has made the current system what it is. And much of
this at the behest of the big health and insurance lobby. They have
(successfully) lobbied government to create obstacles and barriers to entry to
the market, under the false pretext of “protecting” the people. But this is just
newspeak for covering their ass-ets. It’s all about money, and if they can
prevent competitors from entering the market, and maintain the monopoly
which they have so enjoyed, then who’s going to stop them from robbing and
pillaging? The government through a public plan? C’mon get real. The
government has shown that whenever it gets involved in marketplace activities
as a competitor, it invariably ends up creating an even greater and more costly
disaster for the tax payers. And given how corruptible our politicians are in
Washington, a few hundred thousand here, a few promises for cushy positions
there, even more rules and regulations will be passed over time that will
benefit the already prevalent big health and insurance monopoly.

(continued…)

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By KDelphi, October 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

If we had not “shored up the banks”, the Dems couldve expended “political capital” on health care reform, homeowners refinancing, actually creating those “green jobs” we heard so much about, etc.

Obama and the Dems wasted it on banks and so-called “stimulus”.

Grokit01—How do you kmow that “everyone” is only
‘yapping”? WTF are you doing?

FF-I signed a petition for this bill at one of those sites. Everyone should.

de profundis has it right again. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Every industrialized country has done it (in some form) except ours and we have Medicare. Done.

US businessses (what are left of them) cannot compete with countries that provide govt benefits. The 401k, IRA, everyoone in the mkt system failed. Lets not shore it up and do it again.

Everytime I hear that the “economy is coming back” I want to scream—back to WHAT? What we had under Clinton or both Bushes?

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, October 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgYyrw426q4&feature=fvw

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By Will, October 14, 2009 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for writing this Mr. Scheer. We seem to have forgotten that if we let the Wall Street crooks spend all our money we won’t have any left for true badly needed healthcare reform. It seems like Obama and crew are intent on running the country by PR campaigns. It may work for awhile, but eventually Americans will realize they’ve been duped.

The tea partiers’ faux populism doesn’t count. They are the tools the corporate heads are using to keep the status quo going.

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By prole, October 14, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

“The 13 Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee get one faintly rational Republican to join them in a meaningless stab at health care reform and it throws the media into a titillated frenzy about what it all means”….well, at least they don’t need porn anymore for titillation, so Chris Hedges can relax. But seriously, if Scheer can be serious here, what’s the “disconnect”? In fact it’s a perfect connect. The money that’s been spent on the bailout – along with gargantuan savings in reduced paperwork – would more than pay for a universal single-coverage plan. The contrast between taking care of the rich bankers with the extravagant bailout and pinching pennies on health care for the destitute is the perfect connection to establish. It’s inexplicable, and inexcusable, for Scheer to claim, “the health care debate has become a convenient distraction, for both political parties, from the far more pressing issues surrounding the banking meltdown.” There’s really nothing more “pressing” than individual physical needs, so the health care debate has a lot more urgency for most ordinary people. “No sane person can deny that the current system is a sorry mess that needs to be changed. But why now and not after a growth economy has returned?” And no sane person can predict with any certainty just when a “growth economy” will ever return? Do we really want to wait that long? Is there even any reason to believe that a “growth economy” would lead to a just universal coverage plan? Indeed, is there even any reason to believe that returning to the so-called “growth economy” of the last decades that caused the current debacle is even a good thing in itself? “Instead of fixing the economy by saving Americans’ homes and jobs, we are preoccupied with pie-in-the-sky rhetoric on a hot issue that should have been addressed in calmer times”….but it wasn’t, and there’s no more reason to believe it will be if so-called “calmer times” i.e. political apathy, is restored.  In fact, that’s precisely why it should be addressed now – because it wasn’t addressed then and many people don’t have the luxury to wait indefinitely. Saving Americans’ homes and jobs, important as it is, isn’t as vital as the more pressing issue of saving their lives. Instead, Scheer gets all “in a tizzy” over the minutiae of the financial boondoggle and callously tells the uninsured they can wait…and wait…and wait…(but not in the Waiting Room, please, if you can’t pay!)  Just who’s side is Scheer on, anyway?

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By Jean Gerard, October 14, 2009 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is that anti-government-health-care ad on this site, and on this particular page?

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By AT, October 14, 2009 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Bob and thank you Fat Freddy for pointing out the obvious

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By Rodrigo Riadi, October 14, 2009 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

Robert,

I love the lucidity and general non-partisanship of
the article’s point of view and my take is that we
should focus on your point “Consumers don’t have
meaningful choices as it is” and why that is the
case.  I’d say that is the case because the industry
is too regulated as it is, and more regulation will
only increase it’s power in lieu of the people’s. 
I’ll make the point as follows:

- Politicians job is more that of mediator than
decider and that is generally independent of their
intentions or knowledge.  This is not a bad thing,
after all this is a democracy.

- Well the obvious result is that government power
ends up with those that are closest to and influence
it the most, be them lobbies or think tanks or
individuals or whoever.  This again has nothing to do
with intentions or good/bad, indeed many of these
influences on government come with very good
intentions for the good of society.  But influences
come with a view of the world that is normally linked
to the party’s interest.  For example, insurance
professionals often believe everyone should have
insurance since it’s so important.  Same with almost
any other professional – you pick.

- So then focussing the discussion on what government
should do vests the government with even more
authority which indirectly ends up with the
influencers of the day.  Being mandated to have
insurance (healthcare or otherwise) is just one way
to benefit the providers in a pretty blatant way, and
it ends up reducing our choices…. and intentions
are very good indeed!

The answer has to be to reduce the amount of power
the government holds, which plays out in either
spending or regulating.  That power will always end
up with the “influencers” and not the people, even if
intentions are great.

Unless we start a revolution, there’s two ways to
directly influence the environment – our vote and our
wallet.  Voting outsources the power of our wallets. 
Let’s regain the power of our wallets by reducing the
power that voting gives the government and thus,
their “influencers”.

Stop voting as if betting on horseraces or cheering
for your favorite sports team.  We don’t need to
change election finance or anything for that matter,
we just need to elect folks that are committed to
working themselves out of a job, so to speak.  They
are few, but they are out there.

Your thoughts?

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By AT, October 14, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Bob and thank you Fat Freddy for pointing out the obvious.

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By @CT, October 14, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

glider writes:
“That is a terrific photo you picked for your article.  Fitting and well done.”

After several visits to this page, I’ve finally taken in that Geithner probably ISN’T actually sucking his thumb in the foto . . .

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By artswede, October 14, 2009 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

I am certain that Truthdig serves best as a forum for healthy debate, yet at times it should do no harm to credit inspired and inspiring logic.
Thanks Scheer for pointing out the fundamental problem with the current debate.
Yes, health care reform, as much as it is part of the Obama “revolution” should have been a later issue.
The main focus must remain on the implications of financial recovery.
On the balance sheets, what are the returns in helping Wall Street?
Should a “free market economy” entirely rest on financial institutions receiving funds from the government?
With staggering unemployment, each and every American has an enormous stake in government actions.
The time for back door peddling, veiled efforts and no accountability is over.
The shameless cretins of the past administration should have been brushed away by now.
We deserve honest answers, full disclosure and a commitment from our elected leaders that they are in fact working for us.

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By GW=MCHammered, October 14, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bankster bailout?
It’s gangster payola.

Wall Street wants companies like Costco to cut wages to benefit shareholders. How about Wall Street, Insurance Gate and company CEOs cut both their wages and their extortion crap too. You know, in the name of the shareholders.

And why are we paying top dollar for the health$care industry’s rated 37th care. Shouldn’t we be paying 37th?

I’ll believe and invest in foregone ‘free markets’ and ‘democracy’ again when U.S. Marshals backed by National Guardsman bust up these cozy corporate thugs.

All too much like the broadband scandal:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070810_002683.html

http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm

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By Virginia777, October 14, 2009 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

This is a great article and hits the nail on the head:

“The health care issue should never even have been brought up at a time when the economy is reeling and we are running such immense deficits to shore up the banks.”

“It came up now because, despite all the hoary partisan posturing, it is a safer subject than the more pressing issue of what to do with Citigroup, AIG and General Motors, which the taxpayers happen to own but do not control.”

Awesome, Robert Sheer.

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By @CT, October 14, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

“I wish I could concentrate on the health care and bailout debates but how can I when there are terrorists everywhere ... “

Obama’s running off to Houston, by way of Easterwood, to hang out with the Bushes. No terrorists THERE, natch.

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By montanawildhack, October 14, 2009 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

I wish I could concentrate on the health care and bailout debates but how can I when there are terrorists everywhere that want to blow me up…  I seen on the TV that there are 99 members of Al Quida in Afghanistan plotting night and day to find out more better ways to blow me up…  And on top of that Emmanuel Goldstein/Osama bin Laden is still out there somewhere…. Maybe even in my own neighborhood….  So let’s not bicker and argue about such mundane things as health and money when our very existence is at stake….  It may take hundreds of years and trillions of dollars to eradicate these evil doers but all else must be put on hold until we are victorious…. I love America so much…. It’s the greatest cuntry in the world….Praise the lord….

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By @CT, October 14, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

The only trouble with including “public health” in the title for this piece is that Oblabla’s big noise on isurance seems to be calculated to, among other things, stifle any public information on how the rats in Congress intend both to mandate poor and near-poor people into the hell of Medicaid, AND to cut billions of dollars from it.

Meanwhile, G-d help us. From the SF Chronicle:

“The White House’s fear of protests from Code Pink and other left-wingers has put the brakes on President Obama making any public appearances during his visit to San Francisco this week.

“Obama is scheduled to parachute into Liberalville on Thursday afternoon and pick up a cool $2 million for the Democratic Party at a fundraiser at the St. Francis Hotel - then spend the night, before checking out early the next morning and heading to Houston for a community service forum hosted by former President George H.W. Bush.

“The St. Francis event is about all the public will see of him here. Concerns about big and loud protests over the war in Afghanistan, the prohibition on open gays and lesbians in the military and other issues have squelched any thought of a trip to a local school or high-tech manufacturing plant that often accompanies such visits, said a source involved in the planning.”

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By MarthaA, October 14, 2009 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

It means one thing, ME Sen. Olympia Snowe’s one vote was a token bipartisanship vote by the Republicans to help get Health Care legislation out of committee, but in no way does it say bipartisanship in the Senate.

Time will tell, but I doubt Snowe will liberally cast her vote on the floor of the Senate for a much needed robust PUBLIC OPTION that would really be of benefit to the 70% MAJORITY Common Population and the economy as a whole, but we will see.

Snow will more than likely hold out for medical insurance to be treated like the auto insurance scam, where the 70% MAJORITY Common Population are mandated by law to pay or go to jail—- and receive little if any benefit in return.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 14, 2009 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

I have an even better idea:
1 make Medicare universal
2 pay for it on the micro-level by giving every citizen, whether taxpayers or not, a federal income tax credit for the full amount of the notional premium,
3 persons who pay no income tax will have their premium paid by the federal government
4 pay for it on the macro level by cutting the military budget to whatever extent is necessary and/or raising the marginal rate of tax on incomes over $2,000,000 to whatever rate is necessary to balance the budget - ie, force our parasitic militaristic ruling class to choose between their empire and their money.

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By bobbylon, October 14, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Yeah yeah whatever. You undermine your own argument when you take ads on this blog from from the insurance agencies PAC trying to block gov’t sponsored health care. Do as I say, not as I do I guess. Pitiful

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By Old Geezer Pilot, October 14, 2009 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Dick Durban got it right when he said, referring to
Wall $treet, “Hell, they own this place.”

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By Hulk2008, October 14, 2009 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

Mr. Scheer is SO correct on this.  There are a few remaining viable companies here in the local area - the largest health insurer in the US, a major pharma company, and a fairly significant medical device company.  The biggie health insurer has already promised to pass along all increased expenses to the consumer via premiums.  The pharmaceutical giant is laying off employees by the thousands.  And the front page of the local paper features a story about the medical device company needing to pass along its new taxes to the consumer. 

The idea of “free market” anything has long since departed - there ARE NO competitors - so prices will automatically rise.  The corporate entities that provide (now mandate) health products will charge whatever their boards and stockholders demand.

Should we just wait until NObody can afford healthcare?  The government will have 350 million uninsured then - not just 50 million. 

Single payer ala “Medicare for all” is the only hope.  In the meantime, see ya at the ER.

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By glider, October 14, 2009 at 6:09 am Link to this comment

Robert,
That is a terrific photo you picked for your article.  Fitting and well done.

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By peterjkraus, October 14, 2009 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

It’s the corruption, stupid!

The eye-popping sums politicians collected for their health care vote defies all rational thought. This is NOT political contribution—it is corruption writ large.

Until we reform political financing, nothing will change.

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By AS, October 14, 2009 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, Mr. Scheer, You are absolutely right, this is “a meaningless stab at health care reform!”

Our corrupt politicians have apparently been performing this endless-useless health care “game” to entertain the public, at the time when they are powerless to provide ordinary Americans with much needed “bread,” such as jobs, protection from countless foreclosures, and yes, REAL health care reform! For better or worse, I have voted for Mr. Obama, and I have made many small contributions! What I have learned since that time, is that our highly intelligent president is also a very “talented politician,” meaning that he needed our votes, but he also needed their (Insurance Companies, Wall Street…) big money, that the ordinary people cannot possibly provide. Hence, Mr. Obama and most, if not all of our Senators and Congressmen, have made public promises to the plebs, and private ones to their big donors, who had virtually sold them their jobs! When the time comes to deliver on those promises, big money wins all the bread, and the rest of us win the games! 

Howard Dean, MD, has concluded his 2008 superb book, titled “Prescriptions for REAL Health Care Reform,” by saying: “...the healthcare reform bill is not worth passing unless the American people have the choice of signing up for a PUBLIC OPTION…” Needless to say, even this has been a huge compromise for many of us who were in favor of a single payer system. What our politicians have finally delivered, is the ultimate insult to our collective intelligence!

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By glider, October 14, 2009 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

Sheer is right about the lack of outrage over this Bankster bailout.  American main stream media is all but dead as a government and corporation watchdog.  It is certainly no longer effective.  In a healthy democracy its job should be explaining issues like this to allow the public to act through the elective process to effect a fix.  Add to this that our “representatives” are controlled by their corporate sponsors, and then you realize that the people are screwed. 

But deficit spending in itself is not the problem and is not the bogey man that is always presented.  Indeed it is a good thing if it is done in a manner that put idle workers back to work increasing productivity and demand in a balanced way.  On the other hand throwing money at an out of control investment banking cartel is about as counter productive type of deficit spending one can imagine.  I think properly done healthcare could provide a great stimulus and if that was on the table it would certainly be worthwhile to do now.  But Scheer is right that what is being considered is a sham, just as the bailout is a sham.  Without corruption we would not have such deep problems, nor our ongoing wars and outrageous military budget, which is what our officials should be talking about cutting to reduce spending efficiently.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see the “people’s servant” Obama insist that the bankster bailouts and the MIC be “revenue neutral” instead of American’s health?  The other untold bit here is that our deficit, and the fact that over 30% of tax dollars go to pay the interest on our debt, is the result of the government having allowed Bankers to take over debt financing and charge interest.  That is why federal taxes were instituted.  They are an institutionalized payment to the banking system that has been in place since the beginning of the last century.  The government should be loaning out its own printed money, collecting reasonable interest payments, and using that money for the public good.

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By Ouroborus, October 14, 2009 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Everything regarding your healthcare is going on behind
closed doors. Why is that? Probably because you
wouldn’t like what’s being said. You might even get a
little upset. Nobody wants to hear from you; especially
if you’re pissed off. You will accept what is deemed to
be in your best interest. Which of course is really
what’s best for the insurance industry. Why will you
accept that? Why?

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Magginkat's avatar

By Magginkat, October 14, 2009 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

Dear President Obama: A Modest Medicare Proposal by Thom Hartmann

Let’s make it simple. Please let us buy into Medicare.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with this so-called “public option” that’s a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works.  Just pass a simple bill – it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people – that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

http://magginkat.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/dear-president-obama-a-modest-medicare-proposal/

This Congress does not seem to be able to deal with an anwer that is right in front of their noses.

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By Grokit01, October 14, 2009 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

I’m paying my dues with a police record and a visit from our friends the F.B.of I.-Good ‘nuff?

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By Howie Bledsoe, October 14, 2009 at 4:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article, I´ve been pulling out my hair everytime I have to another so-called debate on this so-called issue.  With the money we were robbed of, we couldve given everyone in the country a full coverage. Hell, we coulve put everyone through medical school. This is smoke and mirrors, yet again.  BTW, You will be far less inclined to riot when the revolution comes if you cannot go to the doctors to treat a fractured rib, concussion and a broken ankle.
;P

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By christian96, October 14, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

Grokit01—-I agree we need to stop “yapping” and
do something.  The problem is “who” is going to
do something and “how” are they going to do it.
I disagree with Robert Scheer about putting health
insurance on hold until something is done with Wall
Street and the Banking System.  We all know NOTHING
is going to be done with Wall Street and the Banking
System but feed them more money.  The ruling class
has the money, power, and military.  What can we do?
Nothing!

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Fat Freddy's avatar

By Fat Freddy, October 14, 2009 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

For anyone who is truly concerned:

On September 25 the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on HR 1207 Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009. This would authorize the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct both accounting and policy audits of the Federal Reserve. This Bill has 301 co-sponsors, both Democrat and Republican, including the sponsor, Ron Paul, and Alan Grayson, who was responsible for getting over 100 Democrats on board. The hearing can be seen at C-Span:

C-Span


The biggest opponent of this Bill is Rep Mel Watt. Mr. Watt’s district is Greensboro, NC. Ring a bell? Bank of America’s corporate offices are located in Greensboro.

Let’s take a look at Mr. Watt’s leading campaign contributors, shall we?

First, in the beginning of his Congressional career (1998) his main contributors were labor unions. No surprise here (for a Democrat):

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=1998&type=I&cid=N00002328&newMem=N&recs=20

Now, if you look at his largest contributors in 2008, guess what you find:

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?type=C&cid=N00002328&newMem=N&cycle=2008

Bank of America, Wachovia, American Express and the American Bankers Assn. Surprise surprise. It is any wonder why Mr. Watt opposes HR 1207?

Regarding the hearing: The first part of the hearing is the testimony of The Federal Reserve’s General Council; an attorney. His testimony is basically useless. The second part is where it starts to get interesting. Around 1:40:00 Thomas Woods from the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Tulane University) testifies. Very interesting. Also, see Alan Grayson’s questioning here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXmNpdYpfnk&feature=channel_page

When it comes to public policy it is important to understand that there is a difference between business, and banking (finance). One can be pro-business (free market) and pro-regulation for banking, without contradiction.

Enjoy!

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 14, 2009 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

Grokit01:

Revolution does not spring fully formed from the populace ... it grows and nurtures slowly.  It starts with anger in the soul and only after festering there for some time does it emerge as public discourse.  The public forum, in this age the internet and sites like TruthDig, allows many to speak their mind and to begin the movement which may grow, hopefully, into something more powerful.  To change America it will take many voices and much anger.  That can only come about through the discourse which you put down with so much contempt.  But, just a question ... what are you doing to change this mess?  We eagerly await your input.

As for me, I am trying to make an impact in my own way ... living half way around the world.  If true revolution comes to America, I will be on the first plane home and will gladly join in any capacity I can.

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By Bud, October 14, 2009 at 4:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our pus bags in congress are whores for their pimp masters,the health insurance industry.Somebody,or everybody,should inform them that the people that are dying,sick,uninsured,or underinsured don’t give one god damn about the profits these bastards reap from the misery,and suffering of people!!

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By Grokit01, October 14, 2009 at 4:08 am Link to this comment

I FEEL the frustration in the comments.I feel your pain. I KNOW you’ll be typing your angst from now ‘til you’re all dead but not one of you will actually DO anything about this crap. Fair warning to alls ya yappers.Is there just one person out there who realizes that you’re doing exactly what the real powers that run this country want you to do? Yap,yap,yap,yap, instead of do,do,do. Because as long as ALL you’re doing is yapping it means you are not doing anything to physically remove the real power.Removing those who have enslaved not only us but all of our future generations.Keep on yapping you impotant masterdebaters.

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By Grokit01, October 14, 2009 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

what Mr Scheer says is true-it also sounds like he’s got good health insurance.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 14, 2009 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

This article points to just 2 of the multitude of corporate boondoggles currently dragging our country down the drain.  The illegal wars which fatten the coffers of the military-industrial complex, the massive subsidies in agriculture, the interior department’s cozy relationship with the mining and forestry industries ... the list goes on and on.  We are being sold to corporate interests at every corner in Washington and there is nothing we can do to change what is happening.  Congress will not slit it’s own cash flow throat to level the playing field in our favor.  They will stupidly put their personal benefit ahead of the country.  Give it 20 years or so and the whole mess will collapse under all the corruption.  Then we can start over with something new and, hopefully, much better.

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By ardee, October 14, 2009 at 2:43 am Link to this comment

I believe that the health care issue has a direct bearing upon this “reeling"economy. While I applaud the article in general, and see an accurate assessment of both the reformation boondoggle that will certainly be no real reform and benefit only the industry itself and the dog wagging tail of our financial community controlling both Geithner and the govt. I see a real benefit to our economy from reforming and controlling the Insurance industry.

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By Ray Duray, October 14, 2009 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

Health Care discussion also masks the fact that Barack Obama has set a new milestone. He’s got more U.S. soldiers in colonial wars of occupation than George Bush did at his peak level.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/oct2009/pers-o14.shtml

From the article: According to the troop numbers provided by the Post, there are now 65,000 US troops in Afghanistan, with another 124,000 still in Iraq, for a total of 189,000 American military personnel waging two colonial-style wars and occupations. At the height of the Bush administration’s 2007 “surge” in Iraq, there were 26,000 US troops in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq, for a total of 186,000.

So much for change we can believe in.

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