The theme of Meet the Press on August 16th was Health Care Reform. Panelists were Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), as well as former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), who co-wrote a book on health care reform, but is also a lobbyist with ties to the insurance industry, Dick Armey, who David Gregory introduced as "the head of FreedomWorks, a major organizer of protesters at town hall meetings"; and Rachel Maddow.
The opening clip showed an apoplectic man at an Arlen Specter town hall meeting spouting this Jeremiad:
One day, God’s going to stand before you and he’s going to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill.
It wasn't long before Dr. Coburn offered his analysis: that people are pissed at their government, and this is how they're showing it.
This was Rachel's debut on Meet the Press, and she was surrounded by heavy hitters, so I can't blame her for missing the opportunity to point out that the real problem for Americans was sitting at the table, an icon of what's wrong with our political system: LOBBYISTS. As I've said often, there's nothing wrong with Washington, D.C. that an asteroid hit on K Street would not fix.
A super-majority of Americans say they want a public option for financing health care, but you'd never know it from the halting words coming from our elected representatives in Congress.
A super-majority of Americans want gun control, but the same NRA-cowed representatives of the people act as if they are helpless marionettes.
I do hope Howard Dean is right, and that all will be set right after the legislation leaves the sausage-making committee and heads to reconciliation, where the public option can be put back in.
Anthony Weiner (D-NY) stumped Joe Scarborough with a simple question: What value do health insurance companies provide? They don't diagnose diseases, they don't do surgery, they don't prescribe pills. What good do they do? Joe never did come up with a real answer, except that we have a tradition to maintain.
A DK diarist wrote recently about calculating for the first time what his company was forking over to insurance companies on his behalf. Of the $30K+ in premiums over the years, this healthy worker had used about $1,000 in benefits. It's an effing cash cow for these insurers, especially when they're allowed to drop anyone who is going to eat into their boat payments or private school tuition.
If it turned out to be her only time at bat on MTP, I wish Ms Maddow--a personal hero of mine--had shot her wad and called Tom Coburn's bluff. There's a reason people are mad at their government for not doing what they want, but it has little to do with a particular political party, and everything to do with the financial system that makes Washington work the way it does.
For the Jeffersonians among us:
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the Laws of our country. (1816)
I'm afraid it's too late for that particular hope. But just because the horse is out of the barn, doesn't mean the people, given enough rope, can't wrangle the mustang and tame it. Si, se puede.