Will Obama Have Veto Courage?

Odds are pretty good that after some tortuous meetings and awful compromises by House and Senate bigwigs whatever health reform law is passed by Congress will not be close to what most thoughtful people want. Especially not what progressives and liberals wanted from a Democrat controlled Congress. Will President Obama act with integrity?

Whatever goes to President Obama for his signature will probably do very little to curb the countless excesses by the health insurance industry and, therefore, do next to nothing to curb personal and national health spending. It will almost certainly impose some new taxes that ultimately will impact a large fraction of the population, possibly by taxes on health insurance benefits or through higher insurance premiums and/or co-payments and deductibles, or even worse coverage. Even if there is some type of government option, which does not now seem likely, it would likely be constructed so cleverly that few would take advantage of it.

This and more deceptive actions will result because of the huge amount of money spent by the health insurance industry and its allies on both lobbying and countless ways of funneling money to members of Congress.

This much is now obvious. Even many Democrats, especially in the Senate, have been thoroughly corrupted by health industry money. Brain dead and callous Republicans, of course, have behaved as badly as they possibly could to protect their industry friends.

So it comes down to this: Considering his lackluster behavior during the reform debate, if the long awaited but disastrous health reform law reaches the White House will President Obama have the courage to veto it? Will his thirst for health care reform and unbounded desire for accomplishing what others have failed to do overwhelm the inescapable truth that next to meaningless reform is worse than no reform? Will he be brave enough to tell not just the millions that supported him to begin with but the whole population that Congress failed to do what justice demanded? Will he have the moral determination to tell the truth that corruption of Congress by industry wrecked the democratic process and failed to give Americans what they sorely need?

At this point I am betting that Obama will not have the courage to do any of this. No, I think Obama will behave like all the other lying politicians and claim victory and find all kinds of ways to eloquently describe how the stinking congressional action moves the nation in the right direction. He will look right into the camera and tell his fellow Americans that he has not given up the fight for all necessary health care reforms, but right now this is the best and most that can be done.

If my prediction is correct, then I can only hope that many, many Americans will see the ugly, disappointing truth and become committed to not reelect Obama to a second term, especially progressives and liberals and especially those that know in their hearts that real health care reform would have produced a single payer government insurance plan open to all Americans, like Medicare for everyone.

There should be a limit to what compromises are embraced when it comes to something as deeply personal and critical as health care. Health care reform really should be seen as the ultimate test for President Obama and whether he gives us the change we have been waiting for and what millions believed he would deliver. If genuine health care reform is not produced by Congress, then it should become crystal clear to even the most distracted, devoted and dumb Americans that our democracy is definitely delusional. That’s what President Obama should think about. A corporate-owned democracy is no democracy at all.

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Read other articles by Joel.

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  1. balkas b b said on October 4th, 2009 at 9:03am #

    Greatness of america must not be tarnished with such unamericanism as ‘free’ healthcare.
    In great america, only great people shld be rewarded; i.e., honest, hard working folk, educated, etc.
    The lazy, unmotivated, uneducated people shld just learn to work harder than they do. And they too wld become and welcomed as great or near-great americans.
    That is the only way to keep our great nation great; also to make it even greater.
    That’s why we torture anyone who is out to mar to any degree our greatness. And if we all work harder and love our country even more, our greatness will last forever.
    And we can even make the planet great; bring democracy, freedoms, wellbeing to every corner of the world because we are not selfish.
    Yes, we are noble, freeedom loving, just and fair.
    And in our love to obtaina a better world for all, we do make honest mistakes but only against bad people.
    So, be with us or against us. There is no third possiblity such a being silent or sitting on the fence; while we, your devoted ‘servants’, build a better world and not just for people but also turtles, peas, ants. tnx