Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
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Vet Health Care Snafu Reveals Corporate Obama A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Obama White House alienated and offended a key constituent group in the health care debate by proposing that veterans be forced to use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat-related injuries. "That the White House would put forward such a notion at all just as the debate on Obama's health care plan is heating up, reveals an astounding level of political insensitivity - even incompetence - at the highest level." That's no way to build popular support for a health care overhaul.
Vet Health Care Snafu Reveals Corporate Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“This president succeeded in scaring the hell out of mass-based veterans groups.”
BarackObama’s recent confrontation with veterans organizations provides yet more evidence of the profoundly corporate character of his world view.  The episode alsoprovidesanswers to the question of whothe Obama White House feels it is answerable to, and who it can rebuff and ignore.
The veterans groups were upset with Obama’s proposal that would have forced veterans to use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat-related injuries. That the White House would put forward such a notion at all just as the debate on Obama’s health care plan is heating up, reveals an astounding level of political insensitivity – even incompetence – at the highest level. Only two months into his presidency, Obama managed to alienate the relatively conservative American Legion and ten other veterans groups that are natural constituents in creating a health care system with even a semblance of a claim to universality.
It doesn’t take a political strategy genius to understand that you don’t mess with combat veterans’ medical benefits if you’re trying to build a solid block of popular support for any overhaul of health care. But that’s precisely what the Obama crew did, in attempting to save a measly half billion dollars a year. When the veterans organizations went to the White House to express their concerns, BarackObama himself rebuffed them, saying he would move forward anyway. That prompted the veterans to fire off a letter expressing their “outrage” that the administration would push for such an “unreasonable” plan that would treat combat duty like a pre-existing medical condition. The vets worried that the proposal could make insurance more expensive and possibly crowding veterans’ family members out of coverage. All for the sake of 500 million dollars, at a time when trillions have been committed to bailing out the banking class. What was Obama thinking?
“The White House backed off under the lampooning of Jon Stewart’s Daily show and others.”
This president, who goes to great pains to assure the corporate health care industry that they and their profits will remain protected under his health care plan, succeeded in scaring the hell out of mass-based veterans groups whose natural inclination is to support the deepest and broadest government role in providing health care.
Remember that Bill and Hillary Clinton destroyed the possibility of creating a modest national health care system in the early Nineties, by putting forward a complicated mess of a plan that few understood and nobody could wholeheartedly embrace. BarackObama appears determined to go down the same path. You don’t build a national health care constituency by pissing off the veterans, who for generations have had access to the closest thing to what the Republicans call “socialized medicine” that the United States has been stingy enough to provide.
After initially dismissing the veterans’ concerns, the White House backed off under the lampooning of Jon Stewart’s Daily show and others – which speaks volumes about the Obama administration’s political priorities.  But the damage has already been done. The question has been implanted in the public mind: Who is Obama’s health care plan designed to protect?
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090325_gf_obamavetcare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20am EDT