From Glenn Greenwald

Sunday Aug. 23, 2009 10:24 EDT
The Beltway consensus: the Left is to blame for health care battle

(update below)

The prevailing Beltway wisdom has now ossified that the problem with the health care debate is that those hardened Leftist ideologues cling childishly and petulantly to their little “public option” fetish and their refusal to give it up is jeopardizing enactment of a reform bill. Just see The Washington Post Editorial Page, Post columnist Steve Pearlstein and Joe Klein — and especially the below-documented behavior from Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter — this week blaming The Left, as always, for their childish extremism in the health care debate. As always, the obedient servitude of Blue Dogs and “centrists” to the industries that own Congress aren’t obstructionist at all. Somehow, the refusal of Blue Dogs to vote for a plan with a “public option” isn’t impeding anything; there’s no reason they should give anything up, because they’re just being moderate and “centrist.” As always, the way things should be done in Washington is that the proper scorn should be heaped on The Left until they’re bullied into giving up what they believe so that Things Can Get Done (i.e., so that corporate dictates can be fulfilled).

All of that is taking place despite this truly remarkable passage from a New York Times article today, which details how Tom Daschle is still exerting a major role in advising Obama on health care even as he maintains his stable of health care industry clients. Shockingly, Daschle (and now the key Democrats) are advocating the very policy which his industry clients want: namely, health care reform with mandates, but no “public option” — only with “co-ops” (article headline: “Daschle Has Ear of White House and Industry”):

But these days it often seems as if Mr. Daschle never left the picture. With unrivaled ties on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, he talks constantly with top White House advisers, many of whom previously worked for him.

He still speaks frequently to the president, who met with him as recently as Friday morning in the Oval Office. And he remains a highly paid policy adviser to hospital, drug, pharmaceutical and other health care industry clients of Alston & Bird, the law and lobbying firm.

Now the White House and Senate Democratic leaders appear to be moving toward a blueprint for overhauling the health system, centered on nonprofit insurance cooperatives, that Mr. Daschle began promoting two months ago as a politically feasible alternative to a more muscular government-run insurance plan.

It is an idea that happens to dovetail with the interests of many Alston & Bird clients, like the insurance giant UnitedHealth and the Tennessee Hospital Association. And it is drawing angry cries of accommodation from more liberal House Democrats bent on including a public insurance plan.

That’s wonderful phraseology — the co-op plan which Daschle is advocating to Obama and which the White House and Senate Democrats are now leaning towards “happens to dovetail with the interests of many [Daschle's] clients, like the insurance giant UnitedHealth and the Tennessee Hospital Association.” What a weird coincidence; it’s like those companies won a Bingo game (can you believe our number happened to get called?!? what awesome luck we have).

That’s why there’s such fervent demands for a “public option” — because it’s the only thing that can keep costs low and thus prevent this bill from being nothing more than a glorified bailout of the insurance and drug industries, which is exactly what will happen if 50 million people are forced by law to buy their products with no cost-control mechanism but ample government subsidies. Yet still, the prevailing Beltway narrative continues to be that it’s those loser fringe Leftists who are impeding true reform by demanding a “public option.”

Rest of article at link above.

Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s rain.

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