It's a lie.
The truth is, they agree on just about
everything, especially when it comes to the big ticket items. They
only pretend to disagree. It's all an act. They're faking
the whole goddamn thing.
They don't pretend very well--the act is
very crude and easy to see through --but they are very consistent
and they religiously stick to the script. Only a few members of
Congress ever speak the truth about what's really going on.
1 What's more, major media play along and report all the
noisy theatre and windbag rhetoric as if it were an honest debate
about real alternatives.
Worst of all, a lot of voters
pretend to believe the lies peddled by their own parties. Many
"conservatives" pretend to buy the free-market ideology that they
get from the Republicans, and "liberals" pretend they're dumb
enough to believe the lies they hear from the Democrats.
But when it comes time for Congress to vote
on legislation and for the President to sign it, suddenly the D's
and R's come together. They always manage to come up with something
nice and juicy for the big banks and corporations and the
speculators and the war profiteers. Republican or Democrat, they
always seem to make sure that the people who are already very rich
get even richer. And who gets screwed in the process? The vast
majority of Americans--the people who do the work and pay the
For a list of examples of how this evil
practice has worked over the years, see the footnote at the end of
this article. 2 But for the best example of all, take
the Affordable Care Act.
On this issue of healthcare "reform," what
do the Republicans say they want? To de-fund the ACA and stick with
the old health insurance system, which has been very profitable for
the big insurance companies for decades. What do the Democrats say
they want? A new system under which people who have no money get
squeezed for an average of $328 a month by a private, for-profit
insurance company for a health insurance plan they can't afford.
(Full disclosure: I do not have health insurance coverage of any
kind. Neither of my two jobs offers coverage and I don't have any
disposable income, to speak of. I cannot possibly afford a private
insurance policy that costs $328 a month or anywhere close to
If these financially strapped people refuse
to sign up for one of the plans on offer, they'll get nailed for a
tax penalty by the IRS. If they can't scrounge the money to pay the
penalty by April 15, they will undoubtedly go into debt to the
government. More debt! More bills they can't pay! And all to
support a new system that will probably be even more profitable for
the big insurance companies than the old system was.
No matter which of the two major parties
"wins" this "fight," the big insurance companies will be the real
winners. They will remain very rich or get even richer. Their top
directors and shareholders will continue making money hand over
fist, as usual, or they'll also rake in billions of dollars in
new profits. And millions of Americans who are already
struggling will get even poorer.
That's a pretty weird outcome for a country
that's supposedly based on democracy and majority rule, isn't it?
But wait. It gets weirder. Because you almost never hear about the
best option of all--a Single-Payer national health insurance plan.
The U.S. government, under this plan, would be the "single payer"
for all health insurance claims, while most physicians and
hospitals would remain in the private sector. The plan is often
called "Medicare for All" because it would simply extend the very
successful Medicare system, which now exists for older people, to
Under Single-Payer, the high cost of
healthcare would disappear because the profiteers--the big
insurance companies--would be phased out over a period of 10 to 15
years. And why shouldn't they be phased out? Their tremendous greed
is what caused the healthcare crisis in the first place.
But the Democrats and Republicans in
Congress made damn good and sure that Single-Payer did not get any
traction, or even a mention. In May 2009, the Senate Finance
Committee held a hearing where 16 groups had been invited to
testify about proposals for managing health insurance in the United
States. Not one of the 16 would be testifying about
Luckily, in the gallery were eight people
of conscience who made sure that the audience watching the hearings
on C-SPAN and the reporters in the hearing room got an earful about
Single-Payer. Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action, Katie
Robbins of HealthcareNOW!, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and
several others literally stood up for a truly rational and fair
national health plan. As the hearings began, they stood up, one
after another, and forcefully made their case for Single-Payer
before being arrested.
This is how desperate things have become.
This is what the two major parties have done to the highest
deliberative body in our supposedly free country. The Senate
wouldn't even allow the best idea to get a hearing! Even if a
reasonable person can have doubts about Single-Payer, is it
therefore right to keep it from even being discussed? Is it fair?
Is it honest? Is it democratic?
Naturally, blaming the two major parties
for this state of affairs is not the same thing as blaming
all their members in Congress. There are a precious few
individual exceptions, a handful of honest, courageous people.
Dennis Kucinich really was sincere when he said he was dedicated to
a public, not-for-profit health insurance system for this country.
He was one of the last hold-outs standing up to the stupendous
vote-buying power of the big insurance companies. The very fact
that he held out--when most of his colleagues were busy
selling out--shows that he was sincere. But during the
winter of 2010, as the vote on the ACA approached, Obama and the
rest of the Democratic Party leadership all piled on Kucinich and
bullied him into voting Yes. They thus destroyed one of the few
good people they had left.