Can Lieberman Save Single Payer?
"Cowardice asks the question ‘is it safe’? Expediency asks the question ‘is it politic’? Vanity asks the question ‘is it popular’? But conscience asks the question ‘is it right’? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but we must take it because our conscience tells us that it is right."
-Martin Luther King
On Saturday, November 8 the Democrat Congress gave us a corporate driven healthcare bill which amounts to nothing more than a de facto bailout of the healthcare insurance companies. The carnival conducted by the Democrats, masquerading as a debate around healthcare, demonstrates conclusively how craven are Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats.
We have witnessed cynicism in other administrations but the Obama administration has as raised cynicism to a veritable science. Imagine promising the poor and desperate people of this country healthcare reform and passing legislation which will not only hurt the working class but strengthen the very forces which oppose real reform – the healthcare insurance companies!
The darling of the Democrats, Alan Grayson, voted in lockstep with most of the other so-called progressive Democrats to destroy any possibility for meaningful healthcare reform for the next 40 years. How easily the Democrat rank and file is impressed. Grayson only had to bad mouth the Republicans, something which should be part of the job description of any elected Democrat. For doing the bare minimum he is hailed as a hero. So far removed from real heroism have the Democrats traveled. So ineffective and slimy have the Congressional Democrats become in sucking up to their corporate pay masters so they can keep doing more harm to the American people, that they are praiseworthy simply for criticizing the opposition. Imagine! The Democrat rank and file is impressed by a Democrat Congressman who criticizes the Republicans but votes for a healthcare bill that will spread misery on national level! Only Dennis Kucinich remained steadfast in his opposition to a corporate welfare bill masquerading as a health care reform bill. Perhaps Kucinich does more harm than good by remaining in such a party. By remaining a Democrat he legitimizes the actions he opposes and keeps millions of well intended people from forming a truly progressive opposition party believing the myth that the Democrat Party can be changed form within.
All of the Congressional Democrats and even the successor to George Bush himself recognize that universal single-payer health care (Medicare For All) is the only meaningful solution to the health care crisis in America. But these Democrats have decided that keeping their jobs is much more important than saving the lives of 45,000 Americans. By passing this most cynical piece of legislation they have put their thumbs in the eyes of the American people while the silk tongued oratory of the successor to George Bush will praise this bill even as he delights in the idea of how many people will live in misery.
Obama is so ignominious that even in this miserable mockery of health care reform he will deny benefits to the slave population in the United States as well as to women who need abortions. Obama continues to refer to the slave population created by the heinous William Clinton as "illegal immigrants". We have 13 million slaves; they are not illegal immigrants. They are economic refugees created by trade agreements like NAFTA which allowed companies like Archer Daniels Midland and ConAgra to ship billions and billions of tons of cheap corn into Mexico destroying the Mexican family farm. We are not talking about dirt poor farmers but farmers who employed 10-15 people. Having lost their farms, they wandered into the streets of Mexico City looking for jobs in those corporations that moved to Mexico thanks to the beneficence of that ever hated sperm stain, the successor to Ronald Reagan, who murdered a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children with bombs and sanctions.
When the US corporations closed up their plants in Mexico and moved off to China and Bangladesh where they could pay people $.50 an hour and $.35 an hour these former farm owners had the option of watching their families starve in the streets of Mexico or live as slaves in cardboard boxes in the underpasses of the United States. They have now become a new slave population, paying taxes and Social Security using phony identifications but denied even what would be considered hospitality anywhere else in the world – health care! Only the proslavery Democrats treat human beings in this way. Just as William, the stain, Clinton destroyed the women’s movement with his "Welfare Reform Act" which threw tens of thousands of single mothers into the streets and forced tens of thousands of others into the slavery of Wal-Mart like jobs, so also will Barry The Bomber’s healthcare reform continue pummeling the already staggering working-class American.
Here we have a health care bill which will not only drive up insurance costs but will not even permit the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, thereby driving up pharmaceutical costs as well! The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that only 2% of Americans will be able to participate in this plan while 33% of Americans will remain either uninsured or underinsured. The bill even was stripped of the Kucinich amendment which would have permitted states to develop their own single-payer options. Americans will now be forced to buy health care plans from private insurance corporations. Forced!
Even a little arithmetic indicates what a horror show this nasty piece of legislation creates. Imagine a family at roughly 300% of poverty — around $55,000 a year. It will cost them in the neighborhood of $15,000 in taxes, $14,000 in mortgage or rent; close to $20,000 on childcare and they’ll need around $7,000 for food. That puts them in debt already! Now they will be forced to buy health care — forced! Under penalty of law! Even with government subsidies they will still be in debt! (There is not enough money in the bill to subsidize all the people who will need it). Now imagine a medical catastrophe. Even if caps are eliminated this family will be deeper in debt as the insurance companies increase their profits!
But wait! It gets better – worse if you please. The Congressional Budget Office also explained that one of the other reasons why so few people would be able to buy into this plan is that it "would typically have premiums that are somewhat higher than the average premiums for the private plans." Yes, you read that correctly: "premiums that are somewhat higher".
What about those people who don’t get coverage through their jobs or who have their health insurance dropped at work because there will now be an incentive to dump benefits? History already provides us the answer to that question. Most of the adults who tried to buy insurance on the open market never bought a plan because they could not afford it or they could not find a plan that met their needs. Now the prices will be higher! What a choice: buy insurance coverage or pay a penalty of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per family if they decide to forgo insurance.
LIEBERMAN TO THE RESCUE
The Senate version of health care reform is even more draconian than the House version but the real hero of this tragedy, Joe Lieberman, promises to join a Republican filibuster! The independent senator from Connecticut, hated by liberal Democrats may yet save us! The senator told "Fox News Sunday" today that Democrats can certainly count him in the "no" column if they keep in a government-backed insurance plan. "If the public option is in there as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote," signaling as he has before that he would back a Republican filibuster — which Democrats need 60 votes to break.
While it is never morally acceptable to do something wrong even for a good reason (the ends never justify the means), it is always morally acceptable to do something right even for the wrong reasons! Lincoln, for example, did not free the slaves because it was the morally correct thing to do. He did it for political reasons but nevertheless he did do it and it was the right thing to do. We may not like Joe Lieberman and Max Baucus but ironically we may be in their debt if they join the filibuster to block this anti-working class, corporate welfare legislation. We should be castigating Conyers and Grayson because of their vote in the House while we may have to heave sigh of thanksgiving for people like Lieberman and Baucus if they are successful in preventing this very dangerous piece of legislation.
John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.