Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Parallel Thinking Means This Blog Is Probably Stealing Most of Its Content

There are two matters I wrote about last Friday that I'd like to return to briefly and share some others' thoughts on the matter.

In response to a lecture I attended last Thursday evening featuring Matt Tabbi, Nomi Prins, and David Grossman, I wrote:

"Prins also made the extremely important point that as banks fail and are bought by those few banks who have survived the meltdown--thanks to tax-payer funded bailouts--a tragicomic thing has happened. The surviving banks are actually becoming bigger. Those banks now hold more deposits, have more capital, and, therefore, more power. Though Prins didn't say so explicitly, it also seems to me that the fewer, larger institutions will be more likely to be classified as "too big to fail." So...that fucking sucks. What a wonderful lesson for the country to learn."

Andrew Ross Sorkin, in an interview with Vanity Fair, expresses a slightly different, though related concern (via Ezra Klein):

"The one thing I would say is, to the extent that some of these companies have come out the other side and exist today, many of the executives now consider themselves survivors. That's the word they often use. Like a cancer survivor. Maybe that's deserved for some, but I'm not sure they all appreciate that their survival was in large part paid for by taxpayers. My worry is that, longer-term, some of those who feel like survivors will be emboldened to take on additional risk in the future."

Oh my god, I can't believe these vultures who made all their money swindling the system now consider themselves winners for swindling the system. WHO SAW THAT COMING!? Once again, what a fantastic lesson for the robber barons to learn--if you can steal everything from the public before your competitors can, you get to call the shots and feels like a real tuff guy.

The second post of mine from Friday concerned Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) proposed "basic health plan." If you don't remember it, her amendment aims to create a health care exchange program which would ensure that all private insurance plans meet a designated level of care and cost, but the amendment does not create a government run insurance program. Yet, Cantwell kept calling it a "public option." At the time, I wrote:

"The danger here is that Senate Democrats will now start calling Cantwell's basic health plan a public option, thereby giving Senate Democrats a political "win" in the eyes of their constituents, while excluding a real mechanism to lower costs, which will keep the insurance companies placated. That is to say, they'll pass a "public option" without actually passing a public option."

FireDogLake is now asking the question that I've wanted to know since last Friday. Their headline reads: Health Care Reform: Did Obama Ask Sen. Cantwell to Mislead You?

Jon Walker (the author of the FDL post) references a Chicago Tribune post that reads:

"When Obama spoke by phone recently with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., he made a point of the breadth of support for the public option, the senator said in an interview. Cantwell authored a proposal to let states set up public plans that Democrats added to the Senate Finance Committee bill on Wednesday."

Walker's analysis:

"This is very strange. Obama does not need to tell Cantwell that Americans want a public option. Cantwell strongly supports a public option. She voted for both public option amendments in the Senate Finance Committee hearing.

I think the purpose of the call was to ask Cantwell to try to mislead American into thinking her “basic health plan” is a public option. The evidence is that Obama does not plan to fight for a real public option, but only wants some fig leaf so he can tell the base that there is a public option. It sounds like Obama wants to try to use Cantwell's proposal as the newest fig leaf.

Expect to see administration officials soon falsely claim that Cantwell's proposal is a public option."

I tend to agree with Walker. As I've argued before, I don't think it should be taken for granted that Obama really wants a public option, and this whole Cantwell confusion adds more fuel to that fire.

It'll still be weeks, if not months, before the final health care bill starts to take shape. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Walker's prediction--the Obama and Co. start referring to Cantwell's proposal as a public option--comes to pass. Though one could imagine a worse bill, it would hardly herald a sea change in this country's policy of profiting off the sick.

When asked about the Finance Bill that's currently in Congress, and the what the result of failure to pass reforms would be, Mark Warner (D-VA) said, "I think it'd be a travesty."

Too late, buddy! Welcome to America!

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