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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 8/22/09

Follow the Money

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Glenn Greenwald, unsurprisingly, makes the case that the criticism of the Obama administration for being maladroit in its efforts to get a health care reform bill from Congress which has a strong public option component is missing the point. The full and convincing argument should be read in its entirety, but the conclusion is well summarized in the following paragraph:

"The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill.  But -- given the impossibility of achieving that goal -- isn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill?  Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along."

When Howard Dean spoke of the kabuki dance going on currently, he perhaps spoke better than he knew. Greenwald has answered the simple question that has been dogging progressives: "If the essence of health care reform is to de-link the exhorbitant profits of the pharmaceutical industry from the health needs of our citizens, why is Obama making deals with big Pharma that will mitigate and make meaningless that objective?" The answer seems to be that the need to access the money available from the industry, the desire to restrain opposition advertising, and the need to keep that money out of the hands of the opposition party trump the need to take a definitive step that actually would challenge the greed of the industry on behalf of the health needs of Americans.

That is a grim conclusion for those of us who voted for change we could believe in, but if the reality is that the new administration, like the one it replaced, is in thrall to moneyed interests, we had better address that issue rather than passively arguing from principles that have no interest to those we have elected.

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I am a retired boatbuilder with a fascination for political thought. Most of my life I cheerfully described myself as an "eastern establishment, knee jerk, liberal Democrat."
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