The Senate Deal May Be a Sh*t Sandwich, but If You're Hungry Enough ...
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I'm pretty far to the left, so I'm not accustomed to taking fire from that direction as I have on occasion during the debate over health-care reform. I get the sense that it's become popular in some progressive circles to demagogue both the Dems' compromised reform package and anyone who doesn't attack it with lupine ferocity (the folks over at FireDogLake have kind of gone off the deep end and are threatening a primary against Bernie Sanders, of all people, because he held his nose and voted for the bill).
I'll freely admit that I'm willing to eat a shit sandwich in order to get 31 million people decent health insurance. Maybe not a shit smorgasbord, but a sandwich. And the thing that I don't get is why others aren't just as eager to gobble it down.
Here's the thing: for my entire adult life, Congress has pushed through big legislative packages that showered tax dollars on various industries. Every single year we eat a 5-course shit-meal when the defense bill is passed. The health scheme will cost us $900 billion to set up over ten years -- then it pays for itself. The Iraq war cost $915 billion over seven years, will continue to cost us in the foreseeable future, and will come with huge long-term costs in terms of veterans' care. We got fat defense contractors -- Blackwater, anyone? -- and dead Iraqis for that one.
The bailouts... nobody really knows how much they cost. But it's a hell of a lot more in just two years then we'd spend on health-care in a decade -- it was a sumptuous feast of shit. We didn't insure 31 million people with those dollars -- we bought bonuses for Goldman Sachs execs and financed Morgan Stanley's take-overs of smaller banks.
These are just two examples. I could go on -- look at the money we spend on trade promotion, R and D for the private sector, financing organizations like the IMF that impoverish developing countries. Look at how many dollars we give in tax breaks, at every level of government, to corporations to expand or relocate. It seems very odd to me to think about drawing our line in the sand on this massive give-away -- the first one I can remember that would have real benefits for real people.
Now, I'm not fighting a straw-man here -- I know progressives weren't happy about the bailouts and the costs of our imperial wars. They're not happy about the fact that Corporate America has become the worst kind of welfare queen.
But the point is that I don't remember another shit sandwich that actually delivered something to ordinary working people.