Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obama and the meaning of change


When Barack Obama promised "change," I didn't realize he meant the kind that goes ka-ching ... in the pockets of politicians.

Yet he's done absolutely nothing to resist the influence of monied lobbyists on Washington. I suppose that's too much to ask of an Illinois pol.

First, all the bailouts that paid insurance executives bonuses and let them go on luxury retreats. Now, a retreat from real health-care reform.

Now that he's the seat of all the money and power in Washington, Obama has turned away from the health-reform goals he once told us he believed in. He's barely involved himself personally in the debate, instead turning the crafting of health-care policy over to Sen. Max BauCASH, who's clearly been paid for by Big Medicine and the insurance industry, and he's tolerated the almost complete silencing of advocates for single-payer.

That's wrong. Maybe Congress is so venal that nothing we can say will make them vote for what's best for America's health; maybe they're all bought and paid for. I don't know. But not to permit open speech on the subject, not to let people who represent the opinions of millions of Americans speak on the same platforms as the profiteers who have sickened both our health and our economy, that's criminal.

Far more criminal than the valiant doctors and nurses BauCASH had hauled off to jail for trying to have their say.

Now, Obama says, mealymouthed: "If I were starting a system from scratch then I think that the idea of moving toward a single-payer system could very well make sense. That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world. The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch."

Americans need to let our president know that we won't stand for this. We need to shout — and keep shouting — that we want the single-payer, universal health care that Obama promised us back when he was a state senator — if only we could take back the White House, the Senate and the House. Well, we've done that for him.

As for starting from scratch, isn't that what change is supposed to be about?

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