The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Obama Explains the “Rules of Reform”

Obama in his speech last night:

“I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

“…under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance”

“I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business.”

” we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up” (for the public option)

“Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

(editor note: or allows you to, if you have insurance through an employer.)

Clearer Obama:

As Health Secretary Sebelius said, we are determined to create a health system in this country which is designed so it can never become single payer.  My mandate system, forcing you to buy insurance from insurance companies with inadequate subsidies, will preclude that possibility and save the American consumer for the American insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Rule 1: the best way to make money is to have the government force people to buy your product.

Rule 2: Any major industry with a revenue stream is entitled to that revenue stream forever, no matter how bad the service they provide is, or how much they overcharge.

Rule 3: Any failure of the system will be paid for by forcing ordinary people to pay to bail out the elites who failed.  Making the rich pay for their own mistakes is unacceptable.


Comparing the House Bill’s Cost to the Baucus Proposal


Welcome to The Long Grey Suck


  1. Jim

    As Congress tinkers with the system, the broad outlines of the “reform” that some sections of corporate America want to approve are emerging: More money—all of it ultimately from the pockets of the people—will be funneled to private insurers to provide coverage for many (not all) of the uninsured, or continued corporate subsidies. If any public insurance option is allowed, it will play the role of absorbing the sickest (most expensive) patients and those who can’t pay for insurance, thus helping guarantee the profits of the private insurers and the rest of the health industry.
    We will be made to pay for a bigger private insurance industry—and guarantee its profits—and we will get no guarantee of getting quality health care.
    The corporations that run our country are pushing for this “reform.” Why? The system is too expensive, and the cost is cutting into their profits at a time when profits are falling. They want the government to absorb the cost of care for the poorest and sickest. They want to restructure the health industry to cut its costs and boost its profitability. They are trying to “reform” the system in their interest, which means maintaining private property and corporate profits.

  2. BDBlue

    The three tenets you outline are very useful beyond healthcare because I believe they are the heart of the neoliberal economic policy Obama and the Democratic leadership have embraced. They apply not only to healthcare and the Wall Street bailout, but increasingly to policies in other areas. For example, education and the embrace of charter schools (damned what the studies say).

  3. Ian Welsh

    The charter school thing is one of those signs that Obama isn’t even a centrist, he’s a right winger. They are inferior to public schools according to studies, as you note, yet he wants a massive expansion of them?

  4. B Schram

    I continually have deja vu with the current administration. We have a president who looks good and whose rhetoric tends to be uplifting, saying for the most part what we want to hear (as a nation). Nonetheless, the post on the bail-out of the banks, and this post on the unneeded bail-out of the health insurance industry, make me think that this is Reagan all over again. Despite all the talk, I see little to make me think this administration is doing anything but “trickle-down” economics. I am not an economist, so I ask those more learned than me, am I missing something?

  5. Look on the bright side. We now *know*, publicly, what the limits of the political system are. That’s progress.

  6. I believe this can technically be called “suck up” economics: wealth is sucked up from the poor to the rich, and the politicians suck up to the corps. In two decades, I think, we’re going to have a major socialist party, opposing the Democrats from the left. But right now, we’re going through hell.

  7. BDBlue

    Not only does Obama support charter schools, IIRC, Arne Duncan announced they wanted more money for them the week after the Stanford study was released saying public schools do a better job. I need to go find the news articles because it was unbelievable. He basically used the Stanford report as a reason for giving charter schools more money (although that may be a rage colored memory).

  8. Am I right in understanding that the tendency of the unregulated private insurance exchange will be to suck up all the available savings of the people buying insurance through that market?

  9. John B.

    yes, I think that is right Raven…

  10. Ian Welsh

    Yeah. Premiums will rise faster than wages, and since you can’t opt out…

  11. Thanks for the confirmation of my intuition. I want to do an article on the emergent US class system & I think that will be part of it. I can also write my congresscritters; maybe we can get a bit of mitigation.

  12. Look! Over there! Joe Wilson!

  13. The good news is that the neoliberal system (scam) is about to blow up because the recovery plan is to blow another, bigger bubble without fixing the damage of the previous ones, transferring even more wealth to the oligarchs. At a certain point, trust in the system declines to the breaking point, and without trust in fundamental institutions, economic and political implosion are inevitable. I give this max ten years, but it could detonate any time.

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