Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Glenn Greenwald on the Senate health bill

Glenn Greenwald:
One should acknowledge: the mere fact that the health insurance industry and the market generally sees this "reform" bill as a huge boost to the industry's profitability does not prove, by itself, that this is a bad bill. Contrary to what I've seen said in various places, I haven't advocated for the defeat of this bill. I've said from the start that there are reasonable arguments on both sides and that one must weigh (a) the corrupt, mandate-based strengthening of the private insurance industry, the major advancement of the corporatism model of government, the harm this is likely to do to some who are now covered and some who cannot afford the forced premiums, and the chances for a better bill if this one is defeated, versus (b) the various substantial benefits to many people who do not now have and cannot obtain health insurance and the risk that defeat of this bill will mean preservation of the status quo. Weighing those factors is difficult and, at least for me, produces ambivalence.
But whatever else one might want to say in favor of this health care bill -- and there are compelling arguments to make in its favor -- the notion that Democrats have "stood up to the special interests who prevented reform for decades" is too blatantly false, insultingly so, to tolerate. As even the bill's most vocal supporters acknowledge, the White House's strategy from the start was to negotiate in secret with those very special interests in order to craft a bill that they liked and that benefits them. If one wants to invoke the Obama-era religious mantra of "pragmatism" to argue that this was a shrewd strategic decision necessary for getting a bill passed, that at least is coherent (though not, in my view, persuasive). But this bill is unquestionably one of the greatest boons in recent history for the private health insurance industry and other "special interests" that have long been opposing "reform." It's a major advancement for the corporatist model on which both parties rely. It should lead a rational person to want to buy large amounts of stock in Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in anticipation of the upcoming "reform" of that industry. Whatever this bill is, "standing up to special interests" is not it; quite the opposite.

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