Left 4 Dead

If you’ve been paying an inordinate amount of attention to our Congress’ attempts to ratify meaningful health care reform legislation lo these past several months, a few things should’ve been clear to you from the beginning — chief among them that average Americans simply cannot be trusted to have nice things. We just wouldn’t know what to do with them: Put the nice things on our mantle to show to other nations? Relieve needless domestic suffering and poverty? And what if we cannot afford this hypothetical mantle?

Be quiet! “Dancing with the Stars” is on.

Before the announcement that a government-run public option was jettisoned from the legislation like an alien-harboring crewmate out of the airlock, it was widely pontificated that the entire health debate would eventually come down to a stonewalling Senatorial prick who’d use the 60-vote passage requirement to further a personal political agenda. That we’ve witnessed a carousel of stonewalling Senatorial pricks (J. Lieberman, K. Hutchison and now B. Nelson) shouldn’t be surprising. Nor should it have raised any eyebrows when the House version of the bill was eviscerated moments after it reached the Senate, transmuted into a crippled, declawed piece of “reform” right out of the gate.

In fact, none of this sadness should be news, really, as the entire reform process was co-opted by the very companies said reform sought to curb — namely private health insurers and drug companies — while leaving out those who stood to benefit from it — namely, 96% of all Americans. It’s like expressing shock when the Titanic hit the iceberg; it’s only a question of “when.”

President Obama’s securing of nearly $80 billion in PhRMA support, plus backing from the nefarious, public-option hating AMA, foreshadowed an inevitable bowing to corporate interests early on in the process. What wasn’t clear until today was how low the bowing would go. Although the actual specifics of the Senate bill have yet to be hammered out, the end result will basically force poor uninsured Americans to buy overpriced private care, prevent importation of lower cost drugs, force your grandma to pay more for less and generally place a band-aid over the same broken system.

Whether the Senate’s uber-liberals (like B. Sanders) will ultimately oppose the ultimate, hideous shape that “reform” takes remains to be seen. Equally uncertain is whether that’s a good idea, even in lieu of the turgid state of this goddamned bill. Some say the cost of inaction far outweighs passing something; others, like Sanders, are more inclined to say “fuck it,” and regard anything this Congress produces over the next few weeks as nothing more than an abomination. (Let’s not even discuss the roles that M. McConnell & J. Bunning played in this affair. Too much ennui, not enough natural daylight…)

Regardless of the outcome, Obama’s signature piece of legislation is likely to cause more trouble for his party in the long run, as the very people whom helped water it down will be the loudest critics of its ineffectiveness — while the rest of us sit in a hospital waiting room, dislocated thumbs up our asses, watching Sarah Palin give a speech on the wall-mounted TV.