Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to achieve bi-partisanship: buy some Democrats, put a hit out on some Republicans

Watching the travesty that passed for the Senate Finance Committee meeting last week (9/29) was like watching a bunch of thieves at the public trough. The behavior of the five Democrats who voted against the public option is totally understandable once you realize how well they're getting paid by the healthcare industries. Here's what they've gotten:
Max Baucus got $7,734,102, Blanche Lincoln received $4,190,592, Ken Conrad took in $3,287,891, Bill Nelson was given $2,414,895 and Tom Carper accepted $1,592,380 from health industry interests.

If money is the reason these five Democrats rejected the public option, then it only took a little over 19 million dollars over 20 years to buy the five votes the health insurance industry needed to kill any meaningful reform to their industry.

19 million dollars is nothing compared to the profits the insurance industry will make if a public option is defeated. They got a great deal for that 19 million. The American people? Not so much (from
This clearly explains the continuation of the ineptitude of the Democrats regarding healthcare reform. From the President on down to the Senate drones like Baucus they have constantly taken every bargaining chip they possessed off the table. First the president dropped any attempt to go for single payer, because he believed he couldn't get it through - never mind trying before giving up.

In March, the president explained at a town meeting why he abandoned single payer:
The problem is, is that we have what's called a legacy, a set of institutions that aren't that easily transformed. Let me just see a show of hands: How many people here have health insurance through your employer? Okay, so the majority of Americans, sort of -- partly for historical accident. I won't go into -- FDR had imposed wage controls during war time in World War II. People were -- companies were trying to figure out how to attract workers. And they said, well, maybe we'll provide health care as a benefit.

And so what evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch. But that's what everybody is accustomed to. That's what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans. And so I don't think the best way to fix our health care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps. (from: The L.A. Times)
Yesterday the well paid Max Baucus explained why he was taking the public option off the table:
My job is to put together a bill that will become law. In a sentence, that means my job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes. I can count. No one has been able to show me how we can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.
It's easy to see the basic fallacy in this argument. Obama could have befgun with single payer and bargained it away to get something else (public option?). But if you give it away before you start, you can't use it to bargain. The same is obviously true of Baucus' argument. He can try to get 60 votes with a public option in the bill, but he might endanger his healthcare insurance company money if by accident he succeeds. If he can't get 60 votes with the public option in the bill, he can always bargain it away. With his strategy, he's a loser but he satisfies his healthcare insurance patrons.

So the connection between the Democrats who oppose a public option and their patrons is clear. But the other side of the story is how the Republicans enforce such absolute discipline over its party votes. Yesterday ALL Republicans on the committee voted against the public option. I don't think it's ever been possible in any organization (not the church, not the military) to enforce that kind of discipline, except for one: The mob. I don't really think that the Republicans have any of Olympia Snow's family in a garage ready to enforce discipline. But in politics defeat is like death. So all the GOP powers-that-be have to do is to threaten any possible rebels with a healthcare insurance company backed more right-wing opponent in their primary. The opponent doesn't even have to unseat them, but the money spent on the primary, won't be there for the general election.

Ergo! no change. Buy the necessary Democrats and scare the hell out of any wavering Republicans.

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