There is tremendous fear rising on both the right and the left that the announced intention of Congress -- to force every American to pay tribute to private corporations, with no government alternative -- sets a dangerous and frightening precedent with implications far outside the scope of health care.
If the health care bill written by the Senate is passed, middle-class Americans will be mandated to pay almost as much to private insurance companies as they do to the federal government in taxes for insurance they can't afford, with the IRS acting as a collection agency for penalties of 2% of their annual income if they refuse to comply.
Keith Olbermann has said he will go to jail before doing so.
But this left-right alliance against corporatism isn't new. Many recent measures have been bringing liberal progressives and conservative libertarians together to join forces in opposition:
We've covered the health care reform process heavily on Firedoglake, and the hypocrisy of the entire process has been staggering to watch.
In 2000, the Democrats railed in opposition when the Republicans passed Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that didn't allow for negotiated drug prices. And in 2006 when Democrats took over Congress, one of the hallmarks of their first hundred days was passing legislation allowing Medicare to do so, supported by both Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.
Of course, it had no chance of passing with George Bush in the White House.
Candidate Barack Obama said the ability to negotiate for drug prices would save $30 billion a year in medical costs. Yet when President Obama was elected, he negotiated a secret deal with PhRMA that prevented drug price negotiations in exchange for $150 million in political advertising to help vulnerable Democrats in the House and in support of the health care bill.
Jaws dropped when Senator Tom Carper said that because PhRMA had paid for the deal with political advertising, they were obligated to abide by it.
But the Democrats are hardly alone. Jeff Sessions railed on the floor of the Senate against the corrupt PhRMA deal, but he didn't mention that he voted for the 2000 bill without it. He also didn't think it worthy of note that when he had the chance to vote for it in the Senate in 2006, he voted "no."
Both parties are equally blameworthy -- the only difference is who is in power and taking PhRMA's money.
The PhRMA deal is one of many negotiated by the White House this last summer which formed the underpinnings of the health care bill. From then on, it just became a matter of which member was going to extract what deals for their vote, and who was going to take the blame for cutting popular elements from the legislation that the corporate "stakeholders" didn't want.
As FDL's Jon Walker wrote recently, if the ability to cut health care costs hadn't been auctioned off to private corporations in exchange for political patronage, there would have been no government subsidy necessary to make insurance coverage affordable.
We are ceding control of the government to private corporations, not figuratively but literally. When the Senate Finance Committee bill was released earlier this year, the "author" was a former VP of Wellpoint. Liberals, conservatives and independents alike are all justifiably alarmed at what this represents.
It is tragic that health care for the poor is being held hostage to the corporatist agenda, a fig leaf to buy public support and disguise this bill for what it is. As blogger Marcy Wheeler noted in a piece called "Health Care and the Road to Neo-Feudalism:"
I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don't understand is the nonchalance with which we're about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.
But this "right-left wraparound" is happening because politicians in both parties have become so unresponsive to popular sentiment, and the political drama that plays out in the media little more than kabuki theater for the benefit of the voters. The public support for stifling investigation of the bank bailouts just to protect the President are infinitesimally small, and fortunately Dennis Kucinich announced today that he would commence an investigation into the Fannie/Freddie bailout. But it's a testament to the extreme nature of what is happening to our government that such traditional political foes could find common cause in opposing it.
It's foolish to say that only those who agree with you on every issue are allowed to share your opinion when it comes to opposing something like the mandated bailout of Aetna -- it isn't necessary to achieve health care reform. As Jon Walker notes, removing the mandate would reduce the CBO score and its inclusion in the health care bill with no government alternative is unacceptable for moral, political and policy reasons.
As Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos said, "remove the mandate or kill this bill." We've opened a "war room" at Firedoglake with information about calling your member of Congress to demand that this provision to bail out the insurance industry be removed from the health care bill before they agree to cast their vote in favor of it.
And nobody needs to pass an ideological purity test before they can use it.
Join us to oppose the mandate. Enter the war room.
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