Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sesame St. Is Brought to You by the Word CoOp

A question was raised recently by a Washington Post columnist as to whether

America is no longer capable of dealing with big problems. Is it possible that the disastrous

response to Hurricane Katrina was not an aberration, but rather a symptom of a nation

incapable of solving its' most pressing issues?

In the 20th century, this nation busted monopolies, created a national park system,

fought two world wars, passed social security, improved wages and working conditions; as

well as built an interstate highway system, rebuilt Europe, expanded healthcare for seniors,

and paid for college tuition for an entire generation. Could any of that be accomplished

in the 21st century?

The healthcare system in this nation is broken. It's not just in need of tinkering;

it is in need of a total makeover. Americans pay twice as much per capita for healthcare

than do people in any other Western nations. Americans get half the benefits for twice

the cost compared to citizens from Canada to Britain to Belgium. Your healthcare premiums

are going up at extraordinary speed. Healthcare costs threaten the economic security

(thus our national security) far more than al Qaeda, the Taliban, or any other terrorist

threat. What is even worse, is that for all that money, Americans are not more healthy.

In fact it's the reverse. A citizen of Canada, Sweden, France, or Ireland pays half of what

you do and is healthier. They live longer, their babies are healthier, their quality of life

is better, and they don't have to fear losing health coverage nor going bankrupt because

of a catastrophic illness.

The central villains of this tale are well known. Health insurance companies are

responsible for every ill and problem I have cited. Health insurance companies have been

doubling premiums every two to three years. They have refused to cover people who have

been sick before. They force doctors to give you sub-par service by threatening them if

they ask for too many tests or keep you too long in the hospital. They siphon off as much

as 30% of the healthcare dollar for overhead and administration costs. Their CEO's are

multi-millionaires; and there is no end in sight for how much they will charge you. Forty-

eight million Americans don't have any insurance and the number is growing by the millions

each year. Since January, health industries have contributed $14 million to members of

Congress to stop healthcare reform. In particular, they have to stop the government from

offering you an alternative to their immoral and corrupt system. They understand that if

the public is given a chance, they are screwed. They have poured money into front groups

to disrupt meetings. They have issued propaganda that would make Goering proud (death

panels being my favorite). They don't care about pre-existing conditions and they don't

care about any reform except one. They will do anything to prevent competition. They

know that being pro-choice will mean freedom for Americans who can choose to leave

them for another plan. They are utterly opposed to capitalism. They run a rigged game

now; and if they have to compete for customers, they know the game is over. They know

one more important fact. All regressives will vote to keep things as they are. The

insurance companies know that the same people who fought Social Security and Medicare,

the eight hour work day and child labor laws, the EPA and the Clean Water and Clean

Air Acts; will fight any change in our healthcare system. They only have to worry about

the Democrats. Can they frighten, buy, or intimidate enough Democrats to prevent a

public option from passing? The answer appears to be yes.

Over the past few days, members of the Obama Administration stated that a public

option was not essential to healthcare reform. The most prominent of these quislings

was Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She says at the end of

the day, competition and choice are all that matters; but a public option is not essential

to achieving that outcome. Huh? Choice and competition are essential, but the very

vehicle to bring that about is not essential? Opponents of healthcare reform jumped

all over those words as proof that Obama has blinked. He is capitulating. He is surrendering

and knows he is licked. There is great joy on K Street because mighty Obama has struck

out. On news show after news show, the regressives were overjoyed. Sarah Palin was

being given credit for knocking off Obama. Healthcare reform is as good as dead. Oh sure,

the health insurance companies will agree not to exclude anyone with pre-existing

conditions. They will promise to hold down costs. The drug companies will assure us

that their costs will be reasonable. Doctors won't face pressure not to treat you anymore.

We will be good boys and girls from now on. They will promise anything because they

know there will be no way to enforce the promises. Watch!!! Over the next few weeks,

the Regressives and their insurance company allies will promise the moon. They will toss

in everything but the kitchen sink. Insurance will be more affordable and millions will

have access who didn't have it before. Employer's costs will go down. However, if anyone

in the corporate media has the testicular fortitude to ask how these promises will be

enforced; they will hear the sounds of silence. Without a competitive marketplace,

Congress cannot force the insurance companies to keep one promise.

The one word you are going to hear, which will be offered to solve this dilemma,

will be CoOps. Healthcare CoOps will be trotted out by bought-and-paid-for Democrats.

Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and

Mary Landrieu of Louisiana will all champion and support healthcare CoOps. There is

only one problem. (Actually, there are hundreds.) No one will be able to tell you what

a CoOp is. Is it like a credit union? Is it like a local water district or is it like a volunteer

fire department? No one knows. There is no example in this nation of a thriving CoOp

competing against the insurance companies. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

says they would never be able to compete with the wealth and size of the insurance

industry. They would be dead on arrival. But you are going to hear about them. They

will be sold as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Don't worry! CoOps will force the

insurance industry to keep its' word. (The insurance industry may even oppose them

for awhile to make it look like they are scared.)

Cokie Roberts, one of my least favorite pundits and a card-carrying Regressive,

said on NPR that in the end Democrats will vote for whatever is produced because they

don't want to hurt Obama. Her comments are half wishful thinking and half history.

Democrats have been unable to stand for much over the last thirty years. They couldn't

stop NAFTA and GATT. They couldn't stop Alito or Roberts. They supported the wars

in Iraq and Afghanistan; and looked the other way while the government illegally tapped

our phones and monitored our email and computer activity. When asked by President

Bush, they even granted the Telecom companies immunity for illegally allowing the

government to spy on us; and did I forget a little thing called the Patriot Act which

essentially eliminated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution? Cokie Roberts says

the same Democrats will fold like a house of cards again this time.

In the end it doesn't matter. If Democrats reject healthcare bill, the Regressives

and insurance companies win. If the Democrats vote for CoOps, the Regressives and

insurance companies win. The only possible victory is if Democrats force the administration

to accept a public option. They have to tell Conrad and Baucus that they lose their

chairmanships if they persist. They have to tell Harry Reid he is no longer Majority

Leader if he gives in to this CoOp idea. They have to fight.

The spine that Democrats will need to fight will only come from you. Just as

the Regressives stirred their base, it's now time for you. Over 60% of Americans still

want a public option. The same grassroots that put Obama in the White House have to

give Democrats in the Senate a spine. If you have not emailed or called your senators,

do it. If there are town hall meetings, go to them. Write letters to the editor. Email

every news show from CNN to Fox to MSNBC. Inundate them with your outrage. Let

the White House know that Obama has no legacy or well of support if he capitulates on

the first big fight of his administration. It's in your hands now. Either you win and

America shows it can handle tough societal problems or we continue an inexorable slide

in t0 mediocrity and disaster as a nation. The next big hurricane is coming. Can we

handle it? What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send

them to

will be CoOps.

1 comment:

  1. Read the Constitution, you might learn something. Katrina is not in the Constitution so is left for the States to take care of, not the Federal Government.

    Do you believe the Constitution is the rule of law? Do you believe in the original intent of our founding fathers? Do you want to reform Congress? If your answer is yes, we have to work together to make this happen.