Friday, May 15, 2009

David Sirota on Obama's Pandering to the Healthcare Industry

This is in my opinion one of David's best columns:

Listening to a 2003 Obama speech, it's hard to believe he has become such an enigma. Back then, he declared himself "a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program" - i.e., one eliminating private insurers and their overhead costs by having government finance health care. Obama's position was as controversial then as today - which is to say, controversial among political elites, but not among the public. ABC's 2003 poll showed almost two-thirds of Americans desiring a single-payer system "run by the government and financed by taxpayers," just as CBS' 2009 poll shows roughly the same percentage today.

In that speech six years ago, Obama said the only reason single-payer proponents should tolerate delay is "because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House."

This might explain why when Illinois contemplated a 2004 health care proposal raising insurance lobbyists' "fears that it would result in a single-payer system," those lobbyists "found a sympathetic ear in Obama, who amended (read: gutted) the bill more to their liking," according to the Boston Globe. Maybe Obama didn't think single payer was achievable without a Democratic Washington. And when, in a 2006 interview, he told me he was "not convinced that (single payer) is the best way to achieve universal health care," perhaps he was following the same rationale, considering his insistence that he must "take into account what is possible."

Anyone who's been following Obama for more than a few years must be scratching their heads as to why he's moved to the right on healthcare and why he's gone from an advocate of an efficient solution to healthcare to one who practically is simply waiting for concessions from the industry.

It's the campaign finance, stupid.