By Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford
“Since the first days of his administration, Obama has methodically erased single-payer advocates from the picture.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS GONE TO EXTRAORDINARY LENGTHS to suppress advocates of single-payer health care. He has choreographed a grand theater of faux-change, in which he “seeks to create a façade of unity along lines that do not threaten corporate power.” The goal is to “sidetrack, possibly for decades, the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today.” This “requires elaborate reconstructions of reality,” starting with “methodically erasing single-payer advocates from the picture, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the corporate media.” Thus, Obama and compliant Democrats on The Hill stage “summits” and “public roundtable discussions” on health care from which majority U.S. opinion is totally excluded.
The president feigns amazement at popular demands for a change in the industrial world’s most expensive and dysfunctional health care system. “We’re doing some stuff on health care because I think the country is geared up, businesses are geared up, families are geared up to go ahead and start solving some our extraordinary health care system problems,” Obama fairly gushed , as if his own corporate-friendly proposals accurately reflect the public will. In reality, the Administration is engaged in an elaborate charade designed to sidetrack, possibly for decades, the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today: single-payer health care.
Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress advocates of a single-payer or “Medicare for all” system, which polls  have consistently shown to be favored by at least six in ten Americans, including majorities of doctors and other health care professionals. HMOs, insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations rank among the most despised institutions in the land – causing Obama to take on the mission of saving them from the public’s wrath. As the reigning impresario of theatrical faux-change, Obama choreographed last weekend’s parade of industry troglodytes (and one very wayward union) promising  to “save” the homeland from their predatory selves to the tune of $2 trillion over the next ten years by reducing the growth of the percentage they gouge from the economy.
Obama welcomed the industry’s hollow pledges as history-making breakthroughs – as well he might, since the White House had stage-managed the entire production. The left-leaning but gullible Huffington Post reported  that “two senior Obama Administration officials…I mean pretty darn senior” called the telephonic conference to prepare the media for their bosses “response” to the Mother’s Day “surprise.” Huffington reporter M.S. Bellows, Jr. sees through the industry’s smoke-and-mirrors but, like so many “progressives“ still addicted to the ObamaL’aid, fears that the president is being led by the nose. He wonders: “By taking for-profit corporate lobbyists at their word, is Obama setting himself up to agree to step off the path” to single-payer, low-cost healthcare?
“Single-payer health care is the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today.”
Far from passively taking the health care predators “at their word,” the manufactured rapprochement between the White House and the health predators was yet another carefully scripted act of classic Obama political theater. The cast of characters that are permitted to perform in the drama are chosen for the purpose of exclusion, not inclusion. Single-payer advocates, who represent the views of strong majorities of Americans, are excluded from the production by the Grand Director, President Obama. The impression is created that the parameters of serious discussion range from Obama’s amorphous position, on the “Left,” and the hated corporations on the Right. When the Fat Cats and the Top Cat ultimately shake hands, a national consensus is declared. It matters little that the biggest majorities to coalesce around any major issue in contemporary American life have been squeezed out of the discussion.
Obama opposes single-payer, viciously and with a vengeance. To prevail while in opposition to the people’s will requires elaborate reconstructions of reality – similar to, but far more sophisticated than, the old Kremlin’s storied manipulation of Politbureau photos. Since the first days of his administration, Obama has methodically erased single-payer advocates from the picture, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the corporate media (as documented  by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). The message is: there is only one program for health care reform – Obama’s.
The White House drummed this patent falsehood into the public mind through a series of health “summits” and conferences featuring Republicans, industry lobbyists and compliant Democrats, from which single-payer advocates were excluded. It took howls of protest from labor and elsewhere to force Obama  to include House Judiciary chairman and single-payer legislation sponsor John Conyers and another single-payer token among over 100 participants in a White House showcase, in March.
“The manufactured rapprochement between the White House and the health predators was yet another carefully scripted act of classic Obama political theater.”
Democrats on The Hill dutifully behave as if single-payer is a verboeten subject. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enforces the Obama line: “Over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it’s not going to be a single payer.” Case closed.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus conducts ludicrous sham hearings – shamelessly dubbed “public roundtable discussions” – based on the Obama White House template: no single-payers allowed. On May 5, eight single-payer advocates, three of them physicians, were arrested for attempting to break the wall of censorship. The “Baucus Eight ” were followed on May 12 by an additional “Baucus Five ” when two registered nurses from the California Nurses Association, two doctors from Physicians for a National Health Program, and a patient advocate were arrested for violating Obama’s taboo against single payer advocacy. The nurses group headlined their press release  following the arrests: “Nurses, Doctors Arrested But Insurers Get a Seat at the Table.”
Much of the Congressional Black Caucus is cowed by the Obama health care muzzlers, despite overwhelming African American support for single-payer. Of 41 CBC members, only 29 are co-sponsors  of Rep. Conyers legislation, H.R. 676 .
Obama’s conduct of the health care non-debate gives the lie to his supposed credo – that he seeks to unite Americans around issues of common concern. In reality, Obama seeks to create a façade of unity along lines that do not threaten corporate power. He is determined to shut down the Left, and will succeed in doing so as long as “progressives” persist in believing that, deep down, this president is on their side.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .