We might be pissed, but we shouldn’t be surprised that Obama is waffling on his “public option.” According to Monday’s New York Times, that which was once the cornerstone of his health care reform initiative suddenly is “not the essential element” for reform, according to Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary.
Obama first backed down at a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colo., when a university student asked him how private insurers could compete with the public option.
Now, here is a question just begging to be shoved down the questioner’s throat. The answer is simple: they couldn’t compete as now constituted, and that was the idea of the public option; it would force private insurers to cut the fat out of their expenses, and there is ample fat to be cut.
A good place to start would be CEO salaries. Ron Williams at Aetna has a total annual compensation package of $241,300,112. For H. Edward Hanaway of CIGNA, it’s $12,236,740, annually. WellPoint’s Angela Brady is underpaid with a package worth $9,844,212, annually.
Then we have the private companies administrative costs that come to thirty cents on the dollar compared to Medicare’s five cents on the dollar.
Did Obama jump all over the questioner with these facts? Hell no! He downgraded the public option on the spot, reassuring the student that he viewed the option as a small part of an overall initiative to control costs.
Some might claim that Obama is turning out to be a weak, ineffectual leader who folds at the first sign on controversy. They are wrong. The public option was doomed from the moment it was conceived because nobody in the administration was serious about seeing it implemented. From the very beginning it was window dressing designed to divert the public’s attention from a single payer public plan, the one that seventy percent of the American public is in favor of.
By dangling a public option that was never to be before the public’s eyes, the Obama administration defused what our oligarchs dismiss as the whims of the unwashed mob.
Obama is not our president; he is a public relations gimmick who appears to be appealing to the mob while keeping his corporate sponsors happy.