I mentioned earlier in the week how the public option fight changed the progressive movement. You had a popular, compromise measure that the public supported, where advocates did everything right, getting their pledges and using allies to make demands, and none of it mattered. It bred cynicism for future fights.
Underneath all that was a belief that the public option’s fate represented a sellout, that forces inside Washington cut a deal, whether with the hospital industry or the insurance industry or whoever, to get rid of the public option at the last minute. Tom Daschle confirmed this in a book all the way back in 2010, which he then had to walk back. And other reports have made similar claims, though nobody could nail it down.
Now, Richard Kirsch, who was the head for Health Care for America Now, the labor-backed coalition trying to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010, admitted that the public option was traded away in the midst of the fight.
The book is Fighting For Our Health, by Richard Kirsch, who directed the advocacy group Health Care for America Now during the push for reform. HCAN is a well financed umbrella group backed by scores of liberal groups, unions, and other reformers — making Kirsch a close witness to the entire saga. He confirms that the White House treated the public option like a bargaining chip with powerful industry players, and believes that when his group became most critical of the bill mid-way through the fight, that top White House aides sought to have him canned.
“The White House had negotiated a number of deals with the health industry, designed to win their support for reform, including agreeing to oppose a robust public option, which would have the greatest clout to control how much providers got paid,” writes Kirsch, largely confirming what has become an open secret in Washington.
I think this sellout exposed Democrats and separated them from the progressive movement like nothing else has. Anyway, I like to think that…
Goldman Sachs, while outrageously predicting a “super spike” that might cause oil to reach as high as $200 a barrel, blamed piggish American consumers and preached conservation as a bulwark against oil supply disruptions. The bank’s “Oracle of Oil,” Arjun Murti, even broadcast the fact that he owned two hybrid cars.
Well, thanks to Wikileaks, we now know that when the Bush administration reached out to the Saudis in the summer of ’08 to ask them to increase oil production to lower prices, the Saudis responded by saying they were having a hard time finding buyers for their oil as it was, and instead asked the Bush administration to rein in Wall Street speculators.
According to the McClatchy report, the Wiki cables show that Saudi ministers repeatedly told Bush administration officials that increasing production might be counterproductive.
It would be amusing if the US government was the only one surprised (or is it shocked, shocked, shocked, to paraphrase Claude Rains in Casablanca?) to learn Wall Street gamblers deliberately jacked commodity prices in 2008 (and today, one presumes), causing the starvation of millions in the Third World, among other pleasant effects. Plus massive windfall profits for oil companies. Feigning ignorance, of course, exempts the US government from actually taxing these windfall profits, never mind stopping them.
And whatever happened to the Assange rape case and all the thundering about WikiLeaks endangering our troops? So far, WikiLeaks has only shown us our overlords are venal, corrupt, and eager to do anything to prevent the truth from coming out. And that includes Obama in March 2009 secretly trying to shut down a Spanish investigation into US torture.
And, finally, it’s also interesting that WikiLeaks is the gift that keeps on giving, confirming our worst suspicions about all sorts of underhanded political and economic behavior of our ruling elites going back decades. Isn’t that a hoot? Who could have predicted that outcome?