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Taibbi on Health Care

Max Baucus

Max Baucus

Perhaps Matt Taibbi is best taken in limited doses. He does go on too long, and at times he places style over substance. (Then again, if I wrote as well as he did, I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same.) Plus, he uses words in writing that I tend to reserve for oral use. But he does have a way of getting to the heart of the matter.

In his latest blog post , Taibbi discusses why we are about to get such a crappy health care bill. (Or maybe he would use a different word in place of ‘crappy’.) I already take that for granted, so no surprises there. But what’s up with Obama and the Democrats in the Senate anyway? Why are they unwilling to do anything substantive?

Yes, I’ve read about how Obama has the long view in mind. He’s savvy. He knows what he’s doing, working his way through the political thickets or minefields that other Democratic presidents have been trapped in for decades. Well, to hell with the long view. Let’s do something now (before Joel uses up his eligibility under my health care plan — the idea that he will have to stay in school or land the right sort of job in order to get continued coverage is absurd).

So anyway, here are excerpts from Taibbi:

It’s been clear from the start that the Democrats would make a great show of doing something real, then they would fold prematurely, ram through some piece-of-shit bill with some incremental/worthless change in it, and then in the end blame everything on Max Baucus and Bill Nelson, saying, “By golly, we tried our best!”

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Bill Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.

The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. There is insufficient political will to get it done. It doesn’t matter that it’s an urgent national calamity, that it is plainly obvious to anyone with an IQ over 8 that our system could not possibly be worse and needs to be fixed very soon, and that, moreover, the only people opposing a real reform bill are a pitifully small number of executives in the insurance industry who stand to lose the chance for a fifth summer house if this thing passes.

It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters. The situation we have here is an angry and desperate population that at long last has voted in a majority that it believes should be able to pass a health care bill. It expects something to be done. The task of the lawmakers on the Hill, at least as they see things, is to create the appearance of having done something. And that’s what they’re doing. Personally, I think they’re doing a lousy job even of that. …

This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What’s left? Third-party politics?

Categories: Government, Politics
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