Beltway Spin Podcasts

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Will Obama Lead?

Last night's election results was a direct result of a White house and US Congress (especially the US Senate) yielding to protect corporate interests rather than protect working American. This protection of corporate interests came in the form of legislation like the health care reform bill, re importation of pharmaceuticals, re-importation of pharmaceuticals, and the wall street reform bill.

What am I talking about you ask? On the issue of health care reform for instance, the two main mechanisms that would have caused health insurance premiums to lower significantly, the public option and the repeal of the antitrust exemption, were not a part of the final bill that passed. The public option would have been a proposed health insurance plan offered to Americans by the US government. By the US government offering a reasonably priced health insurance plan to it's citizens, this would have forced private insurance companies to lower their prices for their health plans to keep and get new customers. The antitrust exemption was originally passed under the Mc-Carran-Ferguson Act in 1945 by the US Congress and it exempted the business of insurance from most federal regulation. Repealing the antitrust exemption would have been an important part of making sure that American families and businesses have more choices and have greater control over their own health care. In order to garner 60 votes in the US Senate for the passage of the health reform bill however, the exemption had to be taken out because Democratic US Senator, Ben Nelson-Nebraska, demanded it be taken out to get his 60th vote for the bill.

Analysis: Problem 1) You have a bill that adds 30 plus million more Americans to the private health insurance rolls without the mechanism (public option) to lower the actual cost of private insurance which was supposed to be one of the main objectives of this bill. Without really addressing the cost problem in the private insurance industry, the average American will not see the benefit of this bill. The public option was not a final part of the health insurance reform bill because of corporate democrats like Ben Nelson, Tom Carper, Blanche Lincoln, Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, and the other 40 Republicans in the US Senate . Problem 2) Even if the price control mechanisms were present in this bill, the bill does not fully take affect until 2013 or so. So once again, the benefits of this bill would not fully occur until years down the road. This makes no sense. If Social Security could be created and fully implemented within one year pre-internet and all the technological advances we have today, then why could this health insurance reform bill not take full affect within one year?

The re importation of pharmaceuticals is simply the practice of allowing citizens to purchase pharmaceutical drugs in whatever country has them at the cheapest prices. The amendment for re importation failed to pass the US Senate in a 51-48 vote. In this example, you had both democrats and republicans both voting against and in favor of this amendment. Unfortunately, democrats had already struck a truce with the pharmaceutical companies that if big pharma would not oppose health care reform legislation, the democrats would in turn not support the re importation of pharmaceuticals. Re importation would have cost US pharmaceutical companies billions in profits. A good number of foreign countries like Canada have price controls over their pharmaceutical industries and that is the reason why their drugs are so much cheaper.

Analysis: As a result of this deal with the pharmaceutical companies, drug prices have not gotten any less expensive for American consumers, in fact what the democrats did not expect is that US pharmaceutical companies would actually increase prices even further after this deal was struck. Once again, the average American does not see how health care reform has lowered their health care costs.

The the case of the wall street reform bill, in the Senate version, no strings were put on the banking companies so that in exchange for the bailout they would have to loan credit worthy individuals and business money. There were no strings in the bill to force the banks to re-examine and re-write these faulty mortgages at all.

Analysis: Most Americans feel that they have not or are not benefiting from this reform. The majority of Americans cannot get personal loans or loans for small business start ups even when they have exemplary credit ratings.

Add all of these types of issues mentioned above and you have an electorate that overall felt no real sense of urgency to get to the polls yesterday. Michael Moore was interviewed late last night by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and he gave a very insightful analysis of the direction the White house and congressional democrats should go in. The only question is will the President stop listening to DLC types or actually take the mantle and fully lead the way FDR did facing the exact same types of crisis.

Here is the link to Michael Moore's interview.

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