Friday, April 27, 2007


Sam Smith

definitely and Barack Obama most likely were the two candidates during the South Carolina who deliberately misled viewers on a major issue.

First Obama. He stated the following in answer to a question about his statement in Iowa that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestine people":

"Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said. And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region."

Which sounds good until you read an actual account of the incident by Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register. Either Obama is lying or Beaumont did a lousy job of reporting. Based on the past record of Obama and the Des Moines Register, we're going to trust the paper until a contrary video shows up. Obama appears to have rewritten the story in a major way.

THOMAS BEAUMONT, REGISTER - Obama told the Muscatine-area party activists that he supports relaxing restrictions on aid to the Palestinian people. He said they have suffered the most as a result of stalled peace efforts with Israel. "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people," Obama said while on the final leg of his weekend trip to eastern Iowa. "If we could get some movement among Palestinian leadership, what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people," he added.

But Obama is a minor league fabulist compared to Clinton who had this to say about healthcare:

"Well, let me start by saying that all of the ideas that you're going to hear about in this campaign are very important to get out to the public so that people can actually think about them, examine how they would affect their lives because I do have the experience of having put forth a plan, with many of the features that John and Barack just mentioned. And people were enthusiastic about it initially, but then after the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies got finished working on it, everybody got nervous and so politically we were not successful."

First of all, there was only one candidate standing on the podium who supported true universal healthcare and that was Dennis Kucinich. The others have cynically redefined "universal" as meaning simply mandatory. You don't find politicians bragging of their support of universal car insurance because nobody would be fooled. Telling people they have to buy something is not in any way the same as the government providing it to them out of taxes. It is plain deception.

Second, Clinton's description of her disastrous health care plan is typical of her chronic disregard for the truth. In fact the insurance companies were initially very much in on the deal and met in secret with the Clintonistas. It was supporters of true universal healthcare who were excluded. Clinton made such a mess of the plan, however, that even some of her initial supporters became leery as did a lot of sensible people on the left. Clinton is clearly counting on the media not checking on anything that happened more than six months ago and so feels free to lie.

One of the best descriptions of what Clinton's plan was really about appeared in Reason magazine:

"The centerpiece of the plan is the system of 'regional health alliances.' An alliance may be a state agency or a nonprofit corporation overseen by your state. The government-appointed alliance board determines which companies can offer health plans in your area. Employers and self-employed people pay premiums to the local alliance, and 'it is the obligation of every eligible individual to enroll in a health plan.'"

"The regional alliance resembles the local cable franchise--a government-created monopoly through which consumer services flow. . . Consumers have "choice" among health plans offered through the alliance, just as they can choose whether to buy Showtime or HBO from the local cable monopoly."

The irony of the Clinton disaster is that some of its worst aspects wiggled their way into the system anyway including the notorious system of managed care. It is stunning to hear her brag about it and blame the defeat on the very with whom she initially insurance companies.

Here's how I described it at the time in a book on Clinton's first year:

SAM SMITH, 'SHADOWS OF HOPE,' 1994 - During the first months of the Clinton administration, one of the biggest national policy changes of the past fifty years was being forged by a secret committee led by Mrs. Clinton under procedures that periodically defied the courts and the Government Accounting Office and whose public manifestations consisted of highly contrived media opportunities, carefully staged "town meetings," and similar artifices.

Despite the contrary evidence of public opinion polls, the concept of Canadian-style single-payer insurance was dismissed early. Tom Hamburger and Ted Marmor in the Washington Monthly tell of a single-payer proponent being invited to the White House in February 1993. It was, he said, a "pseudo-consultation;" the doctor was quickly informed that "single payer is not politically feasible." When Dr. David Himmelstein of the Harvard Medical School pressed Mrs. Clinton on single payer, she replied, "Tell me something interesting, David."

In other words, write Hamburger and Marmor: "Fewer than six weeks into the Clinton presidency, the White House had made its key policy decision: Before the Health Care Task Force wrote a single page of its 22-volume report to the President, the single payer idea was written off, and "managed competition" was in."

If there was any popular, grassroots demand for "managed competition" it never appeared. Managed competition had not been tested anywhere. Nonetheless, reported Thomas Bodenehimer in Nation:

"Around Hillary Rodham Clinton's health reform table sit the managed-competition winners: big business, hospitals, large (but not small) commercial insurers, the Blues, budget-worried government leaders and the 'Jackson Hole Group,' the chief intellectual honchos of the managed competition movement. . . Adherence to the mantra of managed competition appears to be the price of a ticket of admission to this gathering. "

What was finally proposed involved a massive transfer of the American health industry - by some accounts now larger than the military-industrial complex - to a small number of the largest insurance companies and other major corporations. These were companies that had the assets to play the game being offered - a medical oligopoly that would dispense health-care under the rules of the Fortune 500 rather than according to those of Hipprocrates.