The All-Seeing Eye Returns

1 comment August 11th, 2009at 07:24am Posted by Eli

Huzzah!  The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin is back!  He’s just switched Posts, is all.  And he seems a bit skeptical about President Obama:

One possibility is that Obama, to everyone’s surprise, will come out with a strong bill much like the one he promised his supporters during the campaign. It is conceivable, after all, that the reason Obama hasn’t publicly issued ultimatums and twisted arms and busted heads is that he believes it’s best to do those things in private — and only when the time is truly ripe. In this scenario, which I call the Obama-as-community-organizer scenario, the community’s needs are finally met, but in a way such that even those who had thwarted the people’s will are allowed to save face.

The other possibility — well, I call that one the Obama-as-pushover scenario. In this one, Obama will come out of it having given away the store — having neither significantly improved the health-care system nor lowered its costs, but rather having created a new entitlement that primarily benefits the health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries.

So far, the glimpses we’ve seen from behind all those closed doors suggest the latter scenario. Most significantly, late last week, first the Los Angeles Times and then the New York Times broke the news that Obama had secretly made a sweetheart deal with former arch-nemesis Billy Tauzin, head of Big PhRMA. The same man who during his presidential campaign so ardently pledged to let Medicare negotiate prescription-drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, has now apparently agreed to block any Congressional efforts to do that — or anything else that would rein in the industry’s obscene profits, for that matter — all in return for $80 billion in promised cost savings over 10 years and, it turns out, an $150 million ad campaign in support of “reform” efforts.


Does Obama have the ability to stand up to corporate interests? There’s scant evidence of that so far. Indeed, most notably in the course of the financial industry bailout, he deferred to them quite spectacularly. And it’s not just corporate interests, either. There’s something about the military/national security complex that seems to set Obama back on his heels on such issues as dealing with Guantanamo detainees, coming clean about the Bush administration’s torture legacy or “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Yes, despite an occasional commitment to open government, the White House remains largely a black box. We know some of the inputs – including a surprising number of health industry titans and veritable parade of other CEOs. By contrast, the “voice of the people” seems to be expressed mostly by the ten miserable letters from ordinary Americans that Obama reads every day. Doesn’t exactly seem like an even match.

Yeah, I’m not optimistic either.  Obama may have once had a plan for what he wanted healthcare reform to look like, but I think his plan now is to simply sign whatever Congress passes and declare that a victory.  This would also explain why he’s being so opaque, so he doesn’t have to commit to anything that Congress might not deliver.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Media,Politics

1 Comment

  • 1. Cujo359  |  August 12th, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Back during the primaries, Obama’s was the vaguest of the health care plans proffered by the major Democratic candidates. Seems to me he’s just continuing on in that tradition.

    Cynical bastard that I am, I don’t think he really cares that much, as long as he can take credit for having done something without risking much popularity. I think that plan could backfire mightily, but I’ve made a habit of underestimating his ability to survive politically.

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