Victory at what cost?

March 22, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

I’m on Lawrence Lessig’s mailing list.   Here is an excerpt from an email he sent today, which you can read at Huffpo:

However good, however essential, however transformative this health care bill may be, we should not mistake success here as a sign that Washington has been cured. Indeed, as Glenn Greenwald reminded us over the weekend — in an essay that should be every reformer’s required reading — success on this bill is no justification for:

claiming that it represents a change in the way Washington works and a fulfillment of Obama’s

Image of fake trillions from novelty shop by Erich Vieth

Image of fake trillions from novelty shop by Erich Vieth

campaign pledges. The way this bill has been shaped is the ultimate expression — and bolstering — of how Washington has long worked. One can find reasonable excuses for why it had to be done that way, but one cannot reasonably deny that it was.

Obama’s victory was achieved because his team played the old game brilliantly. Staffed with the very best from the league of conventional politics, his team bought off PhRMA (with the promise not to use market forces to force market prices for prescription drugs) and the insurance industry (with the promise — and in this moment of celebration, let’s ignore the duplicity in this — that they would face no new competition from a public option), so that by the end, as Greenwald puts it, the administration succeeded in “bribing and accommodating them to such an extreme degree that they ended up affirmatively supporting a bill that lavishes them with massive benefits.” Obama didn’t “push back on the undue influence of special interests,” as he said today. He bought them off. And the price he paid should make us all wonder: how much reform can this administration — and this Nation — afford?

Another thing: As Greenwald noted in his excellent article, to get this bill passed Obama used “the exact secret processes that he railed against and which he swore he would banish.”


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Category: Corruption, Health, Health Care Reform, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Now we have single-payor student loans, and it constitutes a massive transfer of money from executives and profits to those who should have been the only beneficiaries all along: students.

    Hopefully the loan program, which was a huge victory for the democrats, will serve as an incentive to turn health care insurance into a non-profit single-payer system.

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