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 Day 19

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Diane Rehm and Health Care

Corporate Liberals vs. Single-Payer

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

I’m an Arab American.

If I listen to the leadership of the Arab American organizations, I’m supposed to be proud of my fellow Arab Americans who make it in American society.

So, for example, the Arab American Institute promotes all Arab American politicians – no matter their political persuasion.

At its annual dinner, the American Task Force on Lebanon gives awards to the likes of Darryl Issa (R-California) and General John Abizaid, former head of the U.S. Command in Iraq.

A couple of years ago, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee gave an award to National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm, a prominent Lebanese American.

Rehm’s a corporate liberal.

She’ll espouse corporate Democratic Party liberalism – but won’t go out on the limb for the American people.

Take the issue of health care reform.

Fifty million Americans are without health insurance.

More than 22,000 Americans die every year from no health insurance.

The underinsured are dying too.

That’s why, according to recent polling, the majority of the American people want a Medicare for all, Canadian style, single payer health insurance system in the United States.

The majority of doctors want it.

The majority of health economists want it.

But the inside the beltway political establishment – of which Diane Rehm is a card-carrying member – despises it.

They despise it because the private health insurance industry despises it.

Take Diane Rehm’s show this morning.

It’s titled “The Politics of Health Care Reform.”

On the show, three guests:

Corporate Republican, corporate Democrat, and corporate reporter.

Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute. (No to single payer.)

Ron Pollack of Families USA. (No to single payer.)

And Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal. (No to single payer.)

Was a single payer system ever mentioned on the Diane Rehm show this morning?

Yes, once.

But not by one of the four Washington insiders.

As usual, it was raised by a listener.

Mark Joseph e-mailed in to the show to say this:

“Is health care a necessity and a human right – or a luxury to be sold for profit? The debate is whether our government should provide us with the best health care that medical art and science can provide, or should a few special interests be allowed to continue to get wealthier by exploiting human suffering and need.”

Antos gave a mindlessly ideological response – “Don’t go to your doctor if you think he’s exploiting your human suffering.”

As if we had a choice.

Meckler rephrased the listener’s question as – To what extent does the government have a responsibility to provide health insurance for its people?

And she answered it, against the preponderance of the evidence, with – “I think there’s probably a consensus in this country that there is not support for a single payer system that you see in other countries –  with the government as the insurer for everybody. I don’t think we are going to see that. But there are things in between that and nothing at all.”

Pollack didn’t address single payer on the show, but he has publicly joined hands with the health insurance industry to oppose it.

Why did Rehm stack the deck against single payer?

Because she wants to be a player – against the interests of the American people.

Nothing to be proud of there.

On the brighter side, I am proud of a group of West Virginia belly dancers.

On Monday, March 31 at noon, they will be protesting outside the Martinsburg, West Virginia offices their Congresswoman – Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia).

Capito – like Rehm and Pollack and Meckler and Antos –  knows what the deal is on health care reform.

And against the interests of her constituents, she sides with the insurance industry and chooses to dismiss single payer out of hand.

So, I am proud of the belly dancers.

They will be protesting for single payer.

They are calling the event “Shake it Up for Single Payer.”

The event is being sponsored by singlepayeraction.org, which has put up a Shake it Up for Single Payer poster on its website.

(Poster at: http://www.singlepayeraction.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/jensuya.pdf)

Print it out.

Plaster it in the neighborhood of your local member of Congress.

Time to shake up the status quo.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER is editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter. He can be reached at: russellmokhiber@gmail.com