President Obama rejected in an interview Tuesday the criticism that he has compromised too much in order to secure health-care reform legislation, challenging his critics to identify any “gap” between what he campaigned on last year and what Congress is on the verge of passing.
“Nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health-care bill,” Obama said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Post about his legislative record this year. “Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill.” [more]
Hmmm. Let’s see.
The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what, the chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year. Imagine that. That’s an example of the same old game-playing in Washington. I don’t want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game-playing. [here]
Nevertheless, BigPharma’s superstar lobbyist Billy Tauzin says the President has promised not to pressure the drug companies to negotiate with the government for lower drug prices and has agreed not to allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada or Europe.
Candidate Obama also argued with Hillary Clinton about the virtues, or rather the lack thereof, of mandated health insurance which the health reform bill currently adopts.
… the head of this Administration pointedly attacking his opponent’s position on health insurance mandates during the primary campaign. In an effort to differentiate himself, candidate Obama attacked the Clinton plan of requiring citizens to purchase health insurance stating that people do not have health insurance not because they don’t want it, but because they can’t afford it. Mandating health insurance, in his view, would further burden the individual with fines and in the end the person would still not have health insurance. He called it a “substantive difference” with Clinton on the issue and made that point very clear. [there’s more – video even!]
Candidate Obama addressed the issue of mandated health insurance more than once.
If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house,” he said on a CNN morning show on Super Tuesday during the election. “The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money. So our focus has been on reducing costs, making it available. I am confident that if people have a chance to buy high quality health care that is affordable, they will do so. And that’s what our plan does, and nobody disputes that.
[there’s video here too!]
I guess we can expect mandated house-buying next.
Now here’s an article from April 2008 that explicitly takes on the comparison between health care reform plans outline by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. It points out that there wasn’t much difference between them. Except for this:
But the major difference between the two plans involves requiring people to have health insurance, the “individual mandate,” as it’s called. Clinton’s plan, with an estimated $110 billion annual price tag for the government, would require everyone to have coverage. Obama would make coverage mandatory only for children. [here]
Hmmmmm. Let’s move on to the “public option”. President Obama claims he didn’t campaign on the issue. Aleks Koppelman points out that his claim is “at best on shaky ground”.
Obama’s summary of his healthcare plan was, “I have pledged to sign a universal health bill into law by the end of my first term in office. My plan will ensure that all Americans have health care coverage through their employers, private health plans, the federal government or the states. For those without health insurance I will establish a new public insurance program.”
Then there’s the Candidate Obama brochure that said this:
The Obama plan both builds upon and improves our current insurance system, upon which most Americans continue to rely, and leaves Medicare intact for older and disabled Americans. The Obama plan also addresses the large gaps in coverage that leave 45 million Americans uninsured. Specifically, the Obama plan will: (1) establish a new public insurance program available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses that want to offer insurance to their employees.
It is true that Candidate Obama expressed a willingness to consider giving up the public option later in his campaign but it could be argued that he never pressed for the option and gave it up all too willingly. In any case, there’s not much doubt that a big slice of President Obama’s base are experiencing an all too familiar sense of betrayal from their former candidate. So much so that President Obama felt pressed to defend himself today.
I don’t share the sense of betrayal. For one thing, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton. For another, even during and after the world historical event that was the election of a black American to the highest office of the United States I thought the jubilation was unrealistic politically, even if necessary culturally, and I never bought in to the notion that Candidate Obama (or Hillary Clinton) was the great progressive saviour.
On the other hand, it really pisses me off that President Obama has decided to lie to his base and to the people who voted him into office. Oh well. They’re all doing a great job of calling out the gaslight.
NOTE: I can’t seem to do anything about that blank space in the second quote, above. If you want to see the whole thing I guess you’ll have to follow the link. That is, if it works. 😦 NOTE II: So now it’s fixed. 🙂
UPDATE: I really really like this.