David Hoppe

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:: Obama’s failure

Hope a poor substitute for change

by David Hoppe

Ernie Banks, better known as Mr. Cub, the most celebrated ballplayer in the history of an otherwise benighted team, has been awarded a Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor our country can bestow.

President Barack Obama draped the medal round Ernie’s neck. It seemed like the only thing Obama’s gotten right in weeks.

Debacle is too kind a word for describing the mess Obama’s made of what was supposed to be his “signature” piece of legislation. While it is far too early to pass judgment on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the website will be better someday, risks to user security will be fixed, and so on — what this sorry episode has finally revealed about the president’s so-called “management style” has been nothing short of damning.

For those of us who voted for the guy, who have rooted for him, and been both outraged and ashamed by the unabashed hatred he has inspired in so many of our fellow citizens, this has been a gut punch.

If, like me, you’ve been confounded by seeing just how hard any kind of progressive change has been to come by for the past five years, the ACA train wreck has been not just bad news, but a disillusioning revelation.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20, but some us have feared something like this could happen since early 2009, when we learned Obama had taken a single payer, Medicare-For-Everyone option off the table. This meant that instead of healthcare reform, we were going to get a system aimed at protecting profits for insurers and pharma companies. Instead of reining in the most costly healthcare arrangement in the world, the government would make it “affordable” through subsidies that amounted to pay-offs to keep the country’s industrial-healthcare complex living in the style to which it’s been accustomed.

Although he campaigned as a change agent, it turns out the change Obama believed in was really just a hope the powers-that-be might find something like an ethical bone in their institutional bodies. Obama, after all, sold himself as proof positive the system worked; how else to explain his meteoric ascent?

So he trusted the insurance companies to do the right thing…

But this is nothing new. Obama is the same president whose idea of a major statement on climate change is to say we can find “market solutions” in order to tackle a problem that, to a great extent, has been caused by our market-driven addictions.

What makes Obama’s failure even worse is that there appears to be no rational political alternative to him. The situation is ripe for a Republican proposal that might fix our busted healthcare system, but all Republicans have offered is the certifiably delusional notion that America already has (in the words of John Boehner) “the best healthcare delivery system in the world.”

The ACA mess will keep cynics and know-nothings in talking points about government ineptitude for months, if not years. But thinking the problem is that simple is like expecting the Cubs to win next year’s the World Series.