Who will own lack of a (good) national health plan? Part Two
As stated in Part One of this essay, passing legislation that benefited the majority of Americans had became more difficult than ever by the time that Bill Clinton became President. In that atmosphere, a national health program likely would not have been attempted, except that health care costs were by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
Even if both spouses had been covered by health insurance, a serious illness was likely to cause bankruptcy--a subject about which Professor Elizabeth Warren and others had written. Of course, in bankruptcy proceedings, creditors, such as lenders and credit card issuers, may take a financial hit, along with creditor medical care providers. And all those kinds of creditors lobby (and donate). So, a national health plan was on the agenda of America's very first
Trojan Horse New Democrat President.
"Triangulation" by New Democrats seems to mean passing legislation that establishment Republicans want. A group of conservatives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, horrified by Nixoncare's employer mandate, had come up with an individual mandate health plan that the Republican Heritage Foundation had espoused. The Clintons attempted to get a Democratic Congress to pass a version of HeritageFoundationCare, aka Billarycare. That attempt, opposed ironically by the Republican Heritage Foundation, failed. However, Republican Governor Romney and Democratic Senator Kennedy did, at Romney's instigation, get a version of HeritageFoundationCare/Billarycare passed in strongly Democratic Massachusetts, aka Romneycare. (I'm guessing Romney was cluelessly hoping to use this to win the Republican nomination for POTUS.)
Then, along came HeritageFoundationCare/Billarycare/Romneycare/Obamacare. That it would implode was never a secret. For just one thing, during the 2008 campaign, Obama himself had accurately emphasized that a strong public option was the only way to control the very costs that were then already bankrupting Americans (implied: Obama had already ruled out Medicare for All). That a strong public option would inevitably morph into Medicare for All lulled the easily-lulled left. Instead, after Obama became President, the "only way to control costs" morphed rapidly in his mouth to "only a sliver." (His chief of staff, formerly Bubba's, infamously remarked on the native intelligence of anyone who clung to Obama's earlier, truthful statements.) Meanwhile, Republicans remained very busy continuing the Republican tradition of doing nothing at all about the health of Americans.
For Obamacare's lack of a strong public option, Democratic propagandists (middle) fingered, not the HIC (health insurance complex) that had lobbied the White House, but lone Democratic Senator Lieberman. Turns out, turncoats are unpopular with voters of both sides; and so Lieberman was not going to run for the Senate again. That made him a convenient scapegoat. Of course, his wife happened to be working for the industry and "Joe duh Joe" himself was looking toward feathering his post-Senate nest, but I digress..... maybe.
In order to scapegoat only one Democratic Senator, rather than implicate President Obama and all Senate Democrats, Democrats claimed that Joe's vote would be required for cloture (sixty Senator votes) and he would not give it. Inasmuch as a cloture vote was never actually taken, no one, including Joe, ever had to be truly accountable for dooming a strong public option and therefore dooming Obamacare and many Americans. Democrats also claimed that Senate rules would allow only a small portion of Obamacare to pass by reconciliation (as few as fifty Senator votes, after a cloture vote, if any).
Yadda, yadda, Democrats passed the self-destructing ACA (delaying the effective date), supposedly thanks to Ruthless Joe Lieberman. However, when Republican Senator McConnell recently claimed that he would pass Trumpcare/Ryancare/McConnellcare with the votes of only a simple majority of Senators, Democrats were eerily silent about all the Senate rules issues they had, in 2009, presented as insurmountable roadblocks. Remember, boys and girls, with kabuki math, one Democratic Senator foils a sixty-member Democratic caucus, but a forty-eight member Democratic Caucus is totally powerless over a fifty-two-member Republican caucus!
Although Democrats had lots of leverage at the start of the Obama Administration--and have a good degree of leverage as to health care right now--Democrats do not mention Medicare For All, except for the occasional mocking reference. There is at least one exception: Al Gore recently endorsed for Medicare for All--something I don't think he did while he was VP and the Clintons were drafting, then flogging Billarycare. However, Gore no longer has a Senate vote or holds or seeks any public office. (Amazing how liberal even DLC founding members become under circumstances like those, isn't it?)
Now, despite all Republican President Trump's rosy red campaign promises about Trumpcare, despite eight years of braying by Congressional Republicans, Republicans can't even seem to replace FatedtoFailCare with EvenMeanerCare. Some of them think EvenMeanerCare is just too mean (or just too likely to cost them votes), while others among them want only KochPetersonCare, also known as "sucks to be anyone who can't pay in full for health care on his or her own." Of course, if Democrats had passed Medicare for All in 2009, effective, say, 2011, no politician today would dare so much as whisper "repeal" or "replace" anywhere he or she could be overheard by voters.
Part Three (last part) tomorrow.