I can't believe my eyes when I see the insurance and medical industries complaining that they can't live with what
the appeasement king, Sen. Max Baucus of the Senate Finance Committee--
is proposing now for health reform. Corporate lobbies have eliminated
any honest public option, all but killed employer responsibility for
health care and laid vastly increasing costs on employees and
consumers. Baucus is a chief recipient of the industry's money. So pardon me if I see a
smirk behind the complaints--they're just making noise so as not to
appear too satisfied.
I saw that smirk last year in a different context: I'd lost a state-
level fight to oil companies and fuel marketers over the way they sold
gasoline. It turned out that the chief state decision-maker's wife was
an oil industry lobbyist. The issue is irrelevant here, but at the
final showdown, a gas-station lobbyist got up to complain that the
final outcome, which was a near 100% bust for consumers, was actually
harsh on industry. As he took his seat, his lip twitched upward and he
turned away so I couldn't see the rest of the smile. It was Kabuki,
just like today's industry resistance to the watery health reform
gruel that Baucus is serving up.
The loudest critics of reform in Congress, whose poster boy is Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina--obviously can't
be appeased. What they want is to crushingly defeat President Obama.
So I'm with the folks who say Baucus' demands to keep appeasing in the
name of "bipartisanship" is a fools' errand. Even the
moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine has reportedly asked for something new that's off-the-charts bad for consumers--
allowing private health insurers to sell plans nationwide. That only
sounds good until you realize that it would completely eliminate hard-
won patient rights laws in the majority of states, and take
enforcement against misbehaving insurers out of the hands of state
Of course, there's no end of loopholes in the law-making business, but
President Obama at this point has to ensure that the bones of a better
deal for Americans are in the final product--something that can be
easily built up as insurers keep proving they're the problem, not the
solution, for the many ills of the current system.