Swans Commentary » swans.com June 29, 2009  



Blips #87
 From The Martian Desk


by Gilles d'Aymery





"The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out."
—George Carlin (1937-2008)


(Swans - June 29, 2009)   SICK CARE NON-REFORM REFORM: To follow up on my June 15 article on the topic ("American Sick Care Vs. Wellness"), Big Pharma scored big thanks to a report on a plan for comprehensive health reform that the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, issued last week. The White House lauded the "bipartisan effort" and the production of a "significant report." Upon reading its lengthy 9-page summary (PDF), the words that the late stand-up comedian and author George Carlin (1937-2008) once quipped came to mind: "The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out."

DECEPTION IT IS BIG TIME. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) was founded in 2007 by four former US Senate majority leaders: Howard Baker (R), Tom Daschle (D), Bob Dole (R), and George Mitchell (D) -- all of them with a long history of being on Big Pharma's dough and of supporting the for-profit, "free-market" health care system. The BPC is about "developing and promoting solutions that can attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress." Public support for a government-run health plan, as a recent New York Times/CBS News poll found out, is overwhelming. Seventy-two percent of the American people support an insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with the for-profit sector. We are not even talking about a single-payer system here (which is favored by a majority of the public and the medical profession), just a public option -- an option that is not supported by the BPC, except as a last resort approach if the health care crisis gets worse. Instead, the report advocates some sort of weak exchanges that would offer alternative health packages managed by the private insurance companies. To add insult to injury the report recommends that in the name of budget neutrality, health "benefits" employees receive be taxed.

ACCORDING TO their Web site:

Too often partisanship poisons our national dialogue. Unfortunately, respectful discourse across party lines has become the exception - not the norm.

To confront this challenge, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) was formed to develop and promote solutions that would attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress. The BPC acts as an incubator for policy efforts that engage top political figures, advocates, academics and business leaders in the art of principled compromise. In addition to advancing specific proposals, the BPC also is broadcasting a different type of policy discourse that seeks to unite the constructive center in the pursuit of common goals.

The Bipartisan Policy Center is a non-profit organization that was established in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell to provide a forum where tough policy challenges can be addressed in a pragmatic and politically viable manner. We seek to develop policy solutions that make sense for the nation and can be embraced by both parties. After reaching shared solutions through principled compromise, we will then work to implement these policies through the political system.

SO HERE YOU HAVE IT: Partisanship is a "poison;" lack of "respect" for the other side; "principled compromise;" " politically viable;" "shared solutions"...which translates in the following hypocritical statement made by Tom Daschle: "While I feel very strongly that consumers should have the choice of a national, Medicare-like plan, my colleagues do not..." (I say hypocritical because in Daschle's long career he's never advocated single payer...and, err, we are not consumers of care, we are humans and patients who ask for a right to care.) Accordingly, a "principled compromise" had to be found. The result? Keep the darn thing in private hands. Forget about a single-payer system, and keep the public option out of reach as long as possible. Instead, the "principled approach to compromise" promoted by the "bipartisan process" includes four pillars: 1) "Achieve greater health care quality and value." 2) "Make health insurance available, meaningful, and affordable." 3) "Emphasize and support personal responsibility and healthy choices." And 4) "Develop a workable, sustainable approach to health care financing." Empty rhetoric but for the "personal responsibility" part, which are two buzz words that mean the imposition of a mandate: People will have to buy into what the private for-profit insurance industry packages for them, or else...

EVEN MORE OMINOUS is the presentation of the report, which refers repetitively to the knowledge, wisdom, pragmatism, bipartisanship (or is it Obama's post-partisanship?) of the Leaders with a capital L. Here is a sample of these iterations (emphasis mine):

This report presents key findings from the Leaders' sustained effort to develop consensus on bipartisan policy recommendations for health care reform.

In developing their recommendations, the Leaders deliberated solutions to the challenges facing the nation's health care system...

To support the development of their recommendations, the Leaders sought advice and input from a broad range of health care providers, businesses, labor representatives, state and local policymakers, health plans, academics, and consumer advocates through a series of public policy forums and targeted outreach activities.

Ultimately, the Leaders' report seeks to establish a constructive center in the often polarized health reform debate, and to advance a coherent strategy for modernizing the health care system to create a consistent source of health coverage for every American.

The Leaders' policy recommendations recognize that efforts to achieve these goals must be made concurrently, and that neither can be accomplished without the other.

The Leaders set forth specific policy recommendations organized around four substantive "pillars" of health reform.

The Leaders believe strongly in the importance of finding a real, bipartisan solution to the nation's health care crisis right now.

The Leaders encourage truly bipartisan efforts in Congress, and support inclusiveness and transparency across all stages of the process -- from policy development to final passage.

In achieving their historic policy agreement, the Leaders moved beyond many of the key tension points that have contributed to the impasse in the current reform debate.

[And on, and on...]

QUESTION: Is our president the Supreme Leader like in Iran? I reckon this is a slightly skewed question because there is no "Supreme Leader" in Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei is the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic/Theocracy of Iran -- Guide, not Leader. It's a mistranslation (one of many) in the main media that reflects the Freudian slip of our dominant sociopolitical culture, one that privileges the leadership of the few over the many -- very much like it is in Iran!

BUT SINCE we are demanding that the government of Iran respect the voice of its people -- or what we allege is the voice of its people -- why can't the government of the USA and its "Leaders" not respect and follow the voice of the American people? After all, once again, 72 percent of the American people support a national health care system and consider health care a right, not a privilege. When the USA pays almost twice as much per capita than the other "advanced" nations, yet ranks at the bottom in terms of performance, and has over 80 million people either uninsured or underinsured, is it not past time that the voice of the people be heard?

I'LL CONCLUDE with the same words of my last article: "Please, don't get bamboozled once again. Contact your House representative and your two senators. Tell them you want a single-payer national health care system once and for all or, at the very least, that we all be provided with the option to enroll in Medicare. Give us choice, real choice!"

(AND DON'T FORGET to read what Jan Baughman has to say on this matter.)

 . . . . .

C'est la vie...

And so it goes...


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About the Author

Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



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This Edition's Internal Links

Health Care Profits Of Doom - Jan Baughman

Murder From Above - Martin Murie

Buying The Environment To Save Capitalism - Michael Barker

Gender Bent And Bleeding - Book Review by Peter Byrne

Sonnet For Seniors - Poem by Charles Marowitz

Douce France, doux pays de mon enfance... - Marie Rennard (FR)

Douce France - Charles Trenet (FR/EN)

La maison du ruisseau - Marie-Laetitia Gambié (FR)

Jour d'élection - Poème par Simone Alié-Daram (FR)

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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published June 29, 2009