Matt Taibbi has the best explanation I've seen of how we got to where we are in the health care reform debate (i.e., who's to blame). With all due respect to Rolling Stone, I tried to take just a short excerpt. It was impossible. It's a great article, and a long one, please go and read the entire thing - you will finally understand the health care debate, the details of of the actual plans and who screwed us:


We might look back on this summer someday and think of it as the moment when our government lost us for good. It was that bad....

The House versions all contain a public option, as does the HELP committee's version in the Senate. So whether or not there will be a public option in the end will likely come down to Baucus, one of the biggest whores for insurance-company money in the history of the United States....

Last spring, when he met with Rep. Lynn Woolsey, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Obama openly said so. "He said if he were starting from scratch, he would have a single-payer system," says Woolsey. "But he thought it wasn't possible, because it would disrupt the health care industry."

Huh? This isn't a small point: The president and the Democrats decided not to press for the only plan that makes sense for everyone, in order to preserve an industry that is not only cruel and stupid and dysfunctional, but through its rank inefficiency has necessitated the very reforms now being debated. Even though the Democrats enjoy a political monopoly and could have started from a very strong bargaining position, they chose instead to concede at least half the battle before it even began....

Once single-payer was off the table, the Democrats lost their best bargaining chip. Rather than being in a position to use the fear of radical legislation to extract concessions from the right a position Obama seemingly gave away at the outset, by punting on single-payer Republicans and conservative Blue Dog Democrats suddenly realized that they had the upper hand. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would now give away just about anything to avoid having to walk away without a real health care bill....

One of the reasons for this chaos was the bizarre decision by the administration to provide absolutely no real oversight of the reform effort. From the start, Obama acted like a man still running for president, not someone already sitting in the White House, armed with 60 seats in the Senate. He spoke in generalities, offering as "guiding principles" the kind of I'm-for-puppies-and-sunshine platitudes we got used to on the campaign trail investment in prevention and wellness, affordable health care for all, guaranteed choice of doctor. At no time has he come out and said what he wants Congress to do, in concrete terms. Even in June, when congressional leaders desperate for guidance met with chief of staff (and former legislative change-squelcher) Rahm Emanuel, they got no signal at all about what the White House wanted. On the question of a public option, Emanuel was agonizingly noncommittal, reportedly telling Senate Democrats that the president was still "open to alternatives."

On the same day Emanuel was passing the buck to senators, Obama was telling reporters that it's "still too early" to have a "strong opinion" on a public option. This was startling news indeed: Eight months after being elected president of the United States is too early to have an opinion on an issue that Obama himself made a central plank of his campaign? The president conceded only that a "public option makes sense."

This White House makes a serial vacillator like Bill Clinton look like Patton crossing the Rhine....

In many ways, the lily-livered method that Obama chose to push health care into being is a crystal-clear example of how the Democratic Party likes to act showering a real problem with a blizzard of ineffectual decisions and verbose nonsense, then stepping aside at the last minute to reveal the true plan that all along was being forged off-camera in the furnace of moneyed interests and insider inertia. While the White House publicly eschewed any concrete "guiding principles," the People Who Mattered, it appeared, had already long ago settled on theirs. Those principles seem to have been: no single-payer system, no meaningful public option, no meaningful employer mandates and a very meaningful mandate for individual consumers. In other words, the only major reform with teeth would be the one forcing everyone to buy some form of private insurance, no matter how crappy, or suffer a tax penalty. If the public option is the sine qua non for progressives, then the "individual mandate" is the counterpart must-have requirement for the insurance industry....

All that's left of health care reform is a collection of piece-of-shit, weakling proposals that are preposterously expensive and contain almost nothing meaningful and that set of proposals, meanwhile, is being negotiated down even further by the endlessly negating Group of Six. It is a fight to the finish now between Really Bad and Even Worse. And it's virtually guaranteed to sour the public on reform efforts for years to come.


AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth: The best explanation of how health care reform got totally f'd up
le sigh