the real lie in Obama's health care speech

Leonid Osipovic Pasternak The Night before the Exam 1935

let them finally offer care to everyone

I'm old enough to remember a little bit about the fuss over Harry Truman's National Health Insurance initiative in the early post-war years, a part of what he called his "Fair Deal". What would eventually become known as the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill (say it out loud, fast, but with respect) was first introduced in May, 1945. It was a proposal to expand the Social Security System into a full federal pension system and would have ultimately introduced single-payer health care. Universal health care had been a dream of progressives ever since the beginning of the century and more recently outlined in 1938 by an interdepartmental presidential committee formed in 1935 by FDR. While each of the exhausted European nations succeeded in enacting such programs shortly after 1945, it never went anywhere in the U.S., the only warring nation which had come out of the conflict stronger and wealthier than it had entered it.

All of which brings me to say that Obama did lie in his speech* last night, although not when he denied his plan would include health care for illegal immigrants [but what a crazy idea that would be, huh?].

Rather, he lied (okay he said something false) when he spoke about the public option, the last scrap remaining from a great and venerable reform movement, warning progressives not to insist on it:

It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it [my emphasis]. The public option is only a means to that end - and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.

in fact, the "driving idea" was never about ending "insurance company abuses and making coverage affordable". It was always about a single payer system providing health care for all. For the reality-based people it's still about single payer, whether our President or our two corporationist parties like it or not.

I cannot lie: I actually never intended to watch Obama's speech and in fact I did not; instead, while looking on line this morning, trying to find anyone who was not dazzled by its supposed brilliance and its putative success (what does "success" mean in this context?), I came upon this post by Cenk Uygur, where I found the segment from Obama's delivery which I excerpted above.

[image from Bridgeman]