Sunday, August 16, 2009

Change We Can Believe In - Or Compromise We Can't?

Mr. President:

We've now had seven months to BELIEVE in "Change We Can Believe In".

Where is it?

Today, we learned that the "Public Option" - the centerpiece of your Health
Care Reform - has been officially taken off the table. This follows the revelation
two weeks ago
, confirmed by the White House, that you agreed NOT to have the
government negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for "the lowest possible prices".

We have also learned that the non-profit "health care co-operatives"-
the fallback position in case there was no "public option", now
will not happen either. Neither will Medicare reform.

And Tort Reform - the one thing that might take an immediate 15%
right off the top of the national health care bill - wasn't even up for discussion.

How is this "Change We Can Believe In" ?

It looks to me like more of the same.

But now we've got questions - what else has been agreed to behind closed doors
that we won't find out about until later?

Are the Health Insurance Companies still going to be allowed to profit from
denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage of those
who file a claim? Is Big Pharma still going to be able to exert monopoly
pricing over drugs with a blanket veto over any negotiations for lower prices?

Judging by the reactions of the stock market, that seems likely.

In the past six weeks, CIGNA is up 40%. Wellpoint - up 23%. Aetna - up 21%.
Big Pharma? Pfizer - up 20%. Bristol-Myers/Squibb - up 15%. You get the idea.

The Market seems to believe the Fix is in - do you?

This isn't Change We Can Believe In - this is Compromise We Can't Believe Happened.

Now, if the GOP had a majority in the House and Senate, and you
had won a squeaker of an election, we could understand. You would be starting
from a position of weakness. Realistically, you could expect only those small,
incremental changes you could negotiate. And you would be asking, like
many other Presidents before you, for a Congress you could "work with".

But that's not what happened. We gave you a convincing popular and electoral
victory. You have solid majorities in both houses of Congress.
Health Care should have been a done deal. We could understand some
compromise. No Congress, regardless of party, will give a President
everything he wants.

But this isn't compromise. It's a total cave-in to the other side, which has
a vested interest in keeping our health care a sorry mess. And it didn't
have to happen.

There's lots you could have done.You could have made this a matter of party
discipline. You could have pointedly refused to work with the GOP or
conservatives and used the media to tie them to their corporate masters.
This would have covered your moderates and isolated the Blue Dogs.
Remember, most of those Mutts owe you more than you owe them.

And it would have paid off in other ways too. Big Health Insurance and
Big Pharma are poster children for corporate Bad Citizenship that
everyone recognizes. Almost everyone either has had a claim denied,
coverage denied, been put in a financial bind by illness,or
knows someone who has. That makes them unpopular, easy targets.

Get Health Care through, and you do more than just reform Health Care.
You send a Big Message to the other bad citizens - especially Wall Street -
that it's time to play ball and get with the program. Your program.

But fail on Health Care, and you're done. They'll know you can be had.
You'll be compromised and bi-partisaned to death on absolutely everything
else - banking reform, the environment, everything.

Remember, Mr. President; Compromise is a tactic - not a strategy.
Don't forget that. We voted for Change We Could Believe In ; not
compromise we can't understand.

And your beloved Progressives won't forget that - neither will the people.
If joblessness and foreclosures persist into 2010, a lot of good, loyal
Congressional Democrats are going to lose their seats. That won't help you.
And if things don't improve by 2012, you're going to be replaced -
maybe even by a woman.

And I'm not talking Hillary - I'm talking Sarah.

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