Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Could Any President Fix This Mess?

Ed Schultz asked this question on air recently, presumably in defense of Obama and the growing unrest with his presidency. It's a good question and I think it deserves our attention. Could another President have done better?

I have to confess that I am tired of hearing excuses for Obama choices. "It's the right wing's fault he can't get anything done. It takes a long time. Maybe he's afraid of being assassinated. He
had to pass something. No one could resist the temptations of being one of ruling elite".
People want to like him and want him to do well. But it's just as important to understand if and when he is failing.

Let us begin by acknowledging that the right wing is not in power, the Democrats are. In fact it has it has been 40 years since a political party has enjoyed as much power as the Democrats now have.

Their dirty little secret is that they can pass whatever they want whenever they want. There is no Constitutional requirement for a super majority in the Senate or for a filibuster. The Democrats don't even need to vote on it. The party in power makes the rules. The party in power decides the agenda.

Rahm Emmanuel can just as easily spend his time butting DINO's heads together as he can seducing and arm twisting members of the Progressive Caucus to vote against their consciences.

Fixing the economy isn't rocket science. We know what to do. Stop the hemorrhaging. Correct the structural issues. Help the victims and put the offenders behind bars. It isn't rocket science. Has Obama done these things?

As long as the majority of Americans are still staggering under the weight of a multiyear recession while Wall Street hucksters are partying hearty, the answer has to be no. The only place any of the people who brought down the economy are serving time is in the White House. No jobs, no recovery and no justice.

It's not that Obama has tried to do the right thing and it just isn't working. He's not doing the right things.

He hasn't corrected the structural issues that brought the economy crashing down. The Wall Street Casino is still open for business and the banksters are still out there "slicing and dicing" and gambling, this time, with our money. These arrogant so and sos' are even refusing to lend to small businesses (the real engine of economic growth). Instead of exercising his legitimate power, Obama is looking the other way.

The only decent thing about the financial "reform" legislation is the new Consumer Protection Agency. Has Obama championed a credible head for this new agency? Nope. Elizabeth Warren is left twisting in the wind while Obama chats with Tim Geithner to see which of his Wall Street cronies will get the slot.

Obama has taken a passive role in managing our trillion dollar investment in the financial sector. That's just plain wrong. With ownership goes responsibility. He bought these banks in our name and it's his job to manage them for our benefit. He has the power and the responsibility to take over corrupt institutions and to make certain that our investments are safe, that people can stay in their homes and the economic recovery is being funded.

War is a huge drain on the economy and only a tiny minority benefit financially. The rest of us pay in blood and treasure. Instead of ending the costly resource wars in the Middle East, Obama has chosen to expand them. To "put a tin lid on it", he is still doing business with the same war profiteers that Bush and Cheney hired.

Part of "this mess" has to be the erosion of our civil rights and loss of America's legitimacy as democratic nation. Instead of closing Guantanamo Obama has added Baghram. Instead of rolling back Bush's mega-snoop machine, he has expanded it. He has even given himself the power to assassinate anyone he deems and enemy of the State. As bad as Bush/Cheney were, they didn't dare go that far.

Not one person from the last administration has ever even had to answer for their gross abuse of power, their crimes against humanity or their war crimes.

Speaking of messes, there is the Gulf of Mexico. BP is a corporation with a rap sheet as long as your arm. They have been found guilty of criminal negligence, wrongful death and numerous environmental crimes. Allowing them to engage in risky drilling projects off our shores is crime in itself. Fast tracking that project without proper safeguards is unforgiveable. Standing idly by while they poison our water, wildlife, people and food supply earns you a special place in hell. .

Pakistan just became the first victim of man-made global climate instability. 1/5 of that nation lies underwater. Obama sends in the Marines; not the State Department or NGOs, the Marines. Once they land they rarely leave. Ask the Afghans.

Pakistan is the first victim of global warming, One fifth of it is under water. Here is a perfect opportunity to convene an emergency summit on global climate crisis and all I hear is silence.

It seems clear to me that the Obama we thought we elected could have done a great deal to "fix this mess".This Obama can't do squat.

Carol DW

Monday, March 15, 2010

Health Care "Reform": Worse Than Enron

Imagine if Enron, instead of just bilking its customers and cheating its employees, had access to everyone's bank account. Imagine that when they are caught harming their customers, even committing negligent homicide, the money just kept rolling in. Then imagine that Enron was given control over the country's energy resources and everyone had to buy from them or a member of their cabal. That just about sums up what's wrong with Obama Care.

Congress is preparing to pass legislation that is the most invasive since income tax withholding. This time it's not for building roads and schools or protecting our shores, it's going directly to highly profitable private industries; the same industries that destroyed our health care system and have consistently blocked reform.

Congress is preparing legislation that would make any Mafia Don smile. It's a legislated protection racket that forces you to pay 25-30% of your health care dollars for a promise of access to a broken health care system; one that is marginally better than Greece. Only Congress and the President have the hubris to call it reform.

Congress is going to let insurers take their cut right out of your paycheck. The Senate's bill is even worse. They want to make it a criminal offense to not buy insurance. That goes well beyond the fantasies of any crime lord.

None of the legislation contains price controls, allows for bargaining power, places any limits on co-payments or addresses the shameful 25% decline rate that is industry standard. Before health insurance became the norm, medical care was actually affordable. A working family could actually afford to pay their medical bills.

HMOs, medical care manufacturers and big pharma were not slow to exploit the big pool of money collected by monopolistic insurers. Costs for medical care have risen many times the inflation rate every single year for decades.

When insurers discovered they wouldn't go to jail for denying care, they didn't hesitiate to beef up their bottom lines by doing so. As a result, least 17000 people die prematurely each year they can't get the health care they need. Tens of thousands more face financial ruin because of a health care emergency. Instead of putting the brakes on this feeding frenzy, Congress and the community organizer in the White House are preparing to put it on steroids.

Only a seriously dysfunctional institution and a criminally naive leaderwould end months of debate by deciding to make the world's most expensive health care system even more expensive. The State of Massachusetts has the system Congress is proposing and they are going broke trying to fund it. They have the highest health care costs on the planet and are beubg forced to cannibalize existing parts of the safety net like free clinics to keep it afloat.

The Democrats, (elect more of us and we'll change the direction of the country) have become the paid employees of health care insurers, big pharma, HMOs and medical manufacturers. Now they are trying to shove this legislation down our throats like Ginza Knives with a whole cart load of half truths and lies.

The President claims that he is supporting industries because they have agreed to price concessions. What he doesn't tell you is that those concessions have all ready been neutralized by inprecedented price increases over the past year.

Democrats will admit some of the legislation's shortcomings but tell you that "it's a step in the right direction."
It's not a "step in the right direction" to suck the life out of working Americans and deny them the health care the president and congress enjoy at public expense.
It's not a "step in the right direction" to institutionalize an industry that is an obstacle to good care.
It's not a step in the "right direction" to force the public to pay for a defective product AND the corruption of their own government.

Some Democrats are promising to "fix it later". The Democrats have NO track record for fixing bad bills they pass. Medicare Part D is still rotten legislation and big pharma is still rolling in dough. The more likely scenario is that health care corporations will turn right around and use the lucre from 50 million coerced new customers to maintain their lock on your government. They'll be able to do it using a smaller % of their profits.

Democrats whine about not having the votes (not true) and blame the GOP but it's the Democrats not the GOP who killed the public option. The GOP were never going to vote for any kind of health care bill. What's more, the Democrats didn't need them.

The Democrats pretend to be concerned about the 50 million uninsured but they won't let them buy into Medicare or give them access to Medicaid; a cheap practical solution that doesn't have to wait till 2014. They could even make it budget neutral by taking one or two days a month off from killing Afghans, enforcing existing laws governing government contractors or fixing Medicare billing fraud.

No matter what passes in the House and Senate, it's not about reform. It's about politics. It's about sucking up to the CEO's and large shareholders in order to fill Democratic campaign coffers. It's about bending over for the special interests deeper and wider than the GOP in the hope that they can starve them out of the political landscape. It's about a deeply flawed vision of their political future and a deeply cynical view of the American people. it's about a contagion of fear and cowardice on the part of our elected representatives and leaders.

These people are more than willing to trade our health, our lives and our dignity in order to purchase power.
They don't care about this coming economic disaster anymore than they cared about Enron or the collapse of our banking system. This isn't going to end when the bubble bursts with the shareholders taking a hit. Many more people are going to be harmed. This dirty monkey will be on your back, your children's and your grandchildren's back, forever.

Carol DW