Boosters for the Obama administration claim that his Affordable Care Act is a legacy that qualifies Obama for permanent residence in the pantheon of progressive domestic policy presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Black Agenda Report takes the opposite position.
In 2009, newly-elected President Barack Obama set the cause of universal health care back many years with his surprise endorsement of a Republican health insurance plan, hatched in the bowels of the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s, then championed by GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996 and Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney shortly thereafter.
Imposed on Dems
Obama’s bill was written by the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations and brutally imposed on the left wing of the Democratic Party, whose members were threatened with loss of party campaign support if they resisted.
Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the last holdout for the “public option” – a scaled-down alternative to Obama’s corporate-based scheme – that finally disappeared altogether, as did Rep. Kucinich’s seat in Congress. It was redistricted out from under him.
The White House justified its abandonment of the single payer health care, claiming compromise was necessary to get Republican votes. But the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.
Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote.
As a consolation for the loss of the public option, Obama offered to create nonprofit health insurance co-ops in various states. However, more than half of these coops have gone out of business in an environment dominated by cutthroat healthcare capitalists.
Our biggest concern seven years ago was that Obama was setting in concrete the corporate role in healthcare, planting the insurance and drug companies right in the middle of a multitrillion-dollar river of federal money – and that it would take decades to pry their profiteering hands loose.
We still believe that. With every year, more companies and jobs are tied directly to the cash flow of the privatized system Obama created.
As Bruce Dixon has warned, conservative judges are increasingly likely to rule that rolling back corporate pillaging of healthcare would constitute an illegal “taking,” a seizure of reasonably expected profits. Under Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade rules treaty, the corporations would win.
Therefore, it is encouraging that most Americans still support single payer healthcare in the form of “Medicare for all.” A new Kaiser Poll shows 58 percent of the public are in favor of Medicare for all, including 81 percent of Democrats.
That’s only slightly below the high mark of single payer support in the months before Obama announced that he wasn’t really talking about single payer when he used the term “universal coverage” – he meant universal payment to private corporations, under penalty of law.
Obama’s legacy is that he has made it far more difficult to dislodge the corporations from their parasitic role in U.S. healthcare.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. E-mail him at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.