Monday, September 21, 2009

Dean Baker Should Pay Rent in my Skull

These thoughts are as intimately built into my daily to-and-fro-ing as the records, medicine ball and vertical blinds pictured above:
The size and energy at the anti-health care reform protests last weekend were impressive. While some of the leaders are clearly racist nutballs who can’t accept that an African American is in the White House, many of the tens of thousands who showed up in Washington and elsewhere came out in response to their perception of a government that does not respond to ordinary people.

They have a basis for this complaint. It is hardly a secret that President Obama cut deals with the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and other powerful interest groups. This may have been necessary for him to get a health package through Congress, but it’s hard to blame people for being suspicious.

Many of the protestors were not against the government playing a role in health care. In fact, one of the mostly widely expressed concerns was that the President Obama’s health care plan would worsen the quality of Medicare.

Supporters of reform believe that this reform will be a step forward in providing quality health care for everyone, but how confident can anyone be in this view? If there is no public insurance option, as is likely to be the case, how confident can we be that regulators will prevent the sort of abuses that are currently widespread in the insurance industry?


What do we get if the federal government requires people to buy insurance, which quite possibly would be bad insurance, and provides subsidies to do so? By definition this would mean more people have insurance, but it doesn’t mean that people will have good health care. And, in the process, we will have made the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the hospital industry considerably more profitable.

This is an example of what was known in last fall’s presidential campaign as “spreading the wealth around,” but as is generally the case in this country, the direction of redistribution is upward. The government would be taxing ordinary people and/or requiring them to make direct payments to insurers, in order to enrich major corporations and their top executives. Certainly the townhallers have every right to be upset about being forced to give their money to the multi-millionaires running United Health, Cigna, and the rest.


It is clear that most of the health care reform protestors don’t have a clear conception of the policy issues. But they do have a real basis for concern that they are about to be ripped off for the benefit of the rich and powerful. It would be nice if those of us who support reform could honestly assure them that this is not the case.
Maybe this call for Dems to "honestly assure" us about upward redistribution is my version of wanting the movement for reform to "keep it simple"? I dunno, but this is the article of the week, so far.


solidcitizen said...

Re: Our underdeveloped discussion of producerism.

This is what I am saying. We have common cause with these people. A combo of the Dems abandoning class (forced during the 50s-90s to distance from the Reds) and GOP adopting racism?

If this is the case, does Brooks "it's class, not race" article help us or hurt us?

solidcitizen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil AM radio guy said...

Note: Free's "Fire and Water" leaning against shelves.

evil r + b guy said...

Maybe I should say evil FM guy.

Jason said...

If we get health care reform, and I think we will, there will be some outrageous money going to people who already have a lot of money, and that will be the price of getting it done. That doesn't mean, on balance, the program will be bad for the working class.

london said...

I don't want to miss any chance ..why American people do ..really i don't have any idea..