health care, ctd

Last week I wrote:

"I think universal health care is a perfectly laudable goal... That said, I have absolutely no faith in the American political system to create and run a Canadian or French-style single-payer system (setting aside for the moment whether I would actually want it to or not). There are too many stakeholders in the status quo...we'd have to have public (only) campaign financing first."

Yesterday, Robert Reich pointed out a perfect example of why I think this is the case:

It's bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry's support to a key piece of legislation, we're in big trouble. That's called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And it's doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President.

When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater. Citizens end up paying for advertisements designed to persuade them that the legislation is in their interest [emphasis added]. In this case, those payments come in the form of drug prices that will be higher than otherwise, stretching years into the future.

It should be said that this is coming from an unabashed liberal whose support for universal insurance is much less qualified than my own.

A blind spot too many libertarians and most conservatives have is the danger posed by collusion between the private sector and the government. It isn't free enterprise when businesses game the government to their competitive advantage. I have no idea what Mr. Obama (or perhaps more accurately, his team) are thinking here, whether this is a necessary compromise on the path to universal insurance or is actually the way they want to proceed. In either case, they seem to be taking a page from some of the worst economic policy of the Republicans.

All of which goes to reinforce the fundamental silliness of the Team Red/Team Blue mentality...Republicans aren't opposing Obama's health care reforms because they think it's bad policy (it is) but because it's Obama's. More to the point, it isn't difficult to envision an alternate reality in which a Republican president would have struck the exact same deal, with full support from the party. Democrats/liberals/progressives that are supporting reform (it should be said that there is no shortage of liberal disappointment in the general half-assedness of the Obama "plan"), I can only presume, are supporting it primarily because...it's Obama's.


Gino said...

the partisans are lining up, for sure. but there wasnt much, if any, oppo to Bush's expansion of health care entitlement from the left.
probably because the left really is more idealogical than the right, who routinely sell their principles ( i use the term loosely) whenever they think it will help them win more votes.

in this case, the right is mostly on the right side, but for mostly the wrong reasons.

Gino said...

"laudable goal'?
you mean, like world peace?

Brian said...

Yes, but slightly more realistic...