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In Praise of Senator Baucus

We may not yet comprehend how big a favor Senator Baucus just did for his 330 million fellow citizens. But from today on, it is my personal crusade to insure that he gets at least a footnote in the history books.

To be sure, I think Sen. Baucus’ legislation is a load of crap, but the good Senator and his colleagues, doing the insurance industry’s bidding, saved us from the chance that Obama’s “public option” version – itself not quite half a load of crap – might possibly become law. The decks are now cleared for a real battle over real health care: the AmericaPlan.

What is the AmericaPlan? Rest easy, dear friends, it’s not another 40 pounds of draft legislation. It’s already been introduced and it’s got a respectable number of co-sponsors.

The problem is, it goes by a variety of names – none of which are memorable in the least.

Here’s what I mean. The Colgate-Palmolive Corp. marketing staff sits down with their high-paid consultants and brainstorms something like this.

“I’ve got it! Let’s call it the ‘Expanded and Improved Teeth Cleansing Paste.’”

“No, that’s horrible. I say go with the ‘National Save-Your-Teeth-From-Rotting Gel.”

“You’re both crazy. The American people want something short and crisp, like ‘TC 67.’”

Stupid? Well, not a whole lot stupider than the names somebody dreamed up for the only health care legislation that actually does what’s needed: the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” the “United States National Health Insurance Act,” “HR 676,” or the remarkably incomprehensible, “Single-Payer.”

I’m not kidding you. Except for the last one, those are the various official names the legislation goes by. “Single-Payer” was somebody’s idea of a real snappy volksmoniker I guess.

It finally dawned on me how inept “Single-Payer” was, when I was marching in a local demonstration demanding health care for all recently. “Nobody out! Everybody in!” You know, the AmericaPlan.

“What do we want?” The guy behind the bullhorn asked.

“Single-Payer.”

“When do we want it?”

“NOW!”

“What do we want?”

“Single-P…” WtF?!!?

OK. Back to the AmericaPlan.

President Obama was Candidate Obama the last time he mentioned the AmericaPlan and Sen. Baucus had 13 doctors and nurses arrested in his hearing room for trying to get it discussed even briefly, so you may not have heard much about the AmericaPlan.

Suffice it to say there is indeed a single payer – the federal government – which replaces the health insurance companies and their morbidly obese salaries, bloated bonuses, private jets to private Caribbean islands and a totally unacceptable 30+% overhead.

That is the key.

Medicare – that socialistic program teabaggers can’t wait to take advantage of when they hit 65 – has an overhead one-tenth of the private insurance companies! That savings nearly pays for an entire program which brings everybody in; leaves nobody out. But to get there, our political leaders have to take on the very same insurance companies that make those big, fat, irresistible campaign contributions.

That’s where you and I come in.

Thanks once again to Sen. Baucus’ brilliant bill which, without the public option fig leaf, is more likely to die a well-deserved death, we have one more chance to pass the AmericaPlan, HR 676. To do it, we only have to do two things:

1) Start thinking of health care as a right, not a privilege.

2) Get mad. I mean really mad. As in banging-pots-and-pans-on-Capitol-Hill-for-as-many-days-as-it-takes mad. To keep our spirits up we can run Michael Moore’s “Sicko” for the first few days. When we get sick of that, it will be easy enough to organize an unending line of people to tell us their tragic stories of ruined families, foreclosed homes, pain and suffering as a way of life.

Or, we can do what we do really well most of the time:

1) Let our brains turn to mush while the Baucuses, the Obamas and the corporate news outlets make the AmericaPlan, HR 676, seem just too complicated for our little heads to deal with.

2) Throw up our hands and let the insurance companies continue to bury us in paperwork, ration our care, tell us which doctor we can see, decide who lives and who dies – which sounds pretty poor in the home of the brave and land of the free, if you ask me.

That’s pretty much the choice. As the wise sage once said: “It ain’t brain surgery, folks!” The information is all there. You won’t hear word one about it on the corporate news, but it’s completely accessible for anybody who wants to take control of a very important part of their life.

Bring on the pots and pans!

MIKE FERNER is author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq.”