New York Times columnist and economics Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who once was insistent on the need for a "public option" in any health reform bill, on Friday, December 18, 2009, urged passage of a health bill everyone knows is a giveaway to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, on the grounds that it will be easier to fix this 2,000-page hoax than start from scratch. Krugman cited Social Security as a program that started with gaps and flaws and has been steadily improved since then. But his comparison is wrong. Social Security's counterpart in health is Medicare. The expansion of Medicare to cover everyone would be the equivalent of closing gaps and loopholes in Social Security. The Senate health 'deformation' more closely resembles a Social Security privatization scheme that would require people to put a certain percentage of their income in 401 Ks or some other mutual fund or private investment vehicle controlled by one of a small number of companies devoted to managing "pension" accounts. Once it's in place, it will be nearly impossible to change. This bill is garbage produced because Congress can't, as a lifeguard at a local pool says, manage to provide healthcare for all Americans. That's really sad, he says. Indeed. I hope Obama is being cynical when he calls this bill, which meets none of his goals, a great achievemen. It insures 30 million out of 47 million and climbing uninsured. It does nothing to curb insurance policy increases; rather it rewards insurance and drug companies with massive infusions of government funds in the forms of subsidies. It turns a fundamental human right--access to healthcare--into a legal mandate that everyone purchase insurance from a rapacious company. It cuts Medicare benefits. Iit curbs the right of women to control their own bodies.
At this point, were I a Republican, I would simply step back and let the Democrats have the Senate deformation, since it will guarantee Republican victories and resounding Democratic defeats for at least another generation , no matter whom they run.
Were I a Democrat, I would scrap the House and Senate bills and introduce an expansion of Medicare.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont's erstwhile democratic socialist, told the New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg, when describing his own struggle over the Senate health 'deformation,' that he was certain the "insurance companies and the drug companies will be laughing all the way to the bank the day after this is passed." It is hard to see how that can be called reform.
[revised to get out most of the gremlins, 12/30/2009.]